Lin Quenzer, City of Lincoln Ombudsman
Origin and Rationale
To afford Lincoln community members with the same access to fair and equitable treatment that state residents receive from the Nebraska Office of Public Counsel/Ombudsman, the position of Ombudsman within Lincoln City government was established in 1999 by Mayor Don Wesely.
Mandate & Objective
The City Ombudsman is an Executive Ombudsman, situated in the Mayor's office of municipal government. The Ombudsman's mandate is to be an impartial reviewer of facts. The position was established by policy in 1999 and was ensconced by the City Council as a unique personnel classification in 2003. The Ombudsman's objective is to ensure that constituents' receive fair, equitable treatment by all departments of City government.
Due to its placement within the Mayor's office, the Ombudsman has access to departmental records, staff and frequent communication with appointed department heads as well as mayoral aides. The Ombudsman communicates with departmental staff via email, phone and personal meetings to investigate constituent complaints and receive reports on progress steps recommended by the Ombudsman to be taken to resolve complaints and improve customer service.
To the greatest extent practicable by an Executive Ombudsman, the organizational ombudsman structure set forth by the American Bar Association for the Establishment and Operation of Ombuds Offices is implemented by the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman is a member in good standing of the United States Ombudsman Association (USOA). The Ombudsman also holds certifications/completions of training from the following: USOA training for Evaluating Ombudsman Operations & Establishing Performance Measures and for best practices; the Mediation Center (Lincoln) training for Conflict Mediation; Federal Highway Administration training for Civil Rights & A.D.A. Complaints, Lincoln Public Works & Utilities Watershed Management for the completion of NPDES Sediment and Erosion Control Implementation; Lincoln Police Department for completion of the LPD Citizen Academy; Lincoln Commission on Human Rights for completion of Fair Housing Act Issues Conference; Nebraska State Bar Association and University of Nebraska Extension Department curriculum approved by the Administrative Office of the Nebraska Supreme Court for Guardian/Conservatorship; Corporation for National and Community Service for Site Supervisor accreditation; Lincoln Area Agency on Aging training for Addressing Hoarding Behaviors in Older Adults.
The users of the Ombudsman's services encompass all residents of Lincoln, Nebraska, departments of City government and members of Lincoln City Council. The Ombudsman also collaborates with other governmental agencies, elected officials and nonprofit agencies' staff who provide constituent referrals to the Ombudsman. These relationships are of necessity reciprocal and the entities described function as both clients and referral resources for complaints outside the Ombudsman's jurisdiction.
Ombudsman services are delivered by a variety of mechanisms due to varying degrees of client literacy, access to technology, lack of understanding of government and/or laws. The UPLNK app is a primary point of inquiry and service delivery as well as telephone contact either through the Mayor's office or the Neighborhood Hotline, face to face and email contact.
Final Outcomes/Planned Results
The City of Lincoln strives to efficiently carry out municipal government functions to create a safe, clean environment that is conducive to economic vitality and a high quality of life for all residents.
In working towards that goal, the Ombudsman will assist in providing government accountability and transparency to constituents on departmental actions regarding their concerns. The Ombudsman will facilitate public education on the use of public resources to meet the priorities identified in the City's outcome based budgeting plan and defend those resources for the common good. By helping to create a good stream of communication within and between departments to provide all constituents with reliable, timely responses, the Ombudsman will assist the City to increase the level of public trust and maintain the stable, fair provision of City services.