Ombudsman statute and rules
You can find our statute, Iowa Code section 2C at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/2c.pdf
Administrative Rule 141 that governs our office can be found at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/iac/agency/141.pdf
Your rights and responsibilities
You are entitled to:
- make a complaint and to express your opinions in ways that are reasonable, lawful and appropriate;
- a reasonable explanation of the Ombudsman’s complaint procedure, including details of the confidentiality, secrecy and/or privacy rights or obligations that may apply;
- a fair and impartial assessment and, where appropriate, investigation of your complaint based on the merits of the case;
- a timely response;
- be informed in at least general terms about the actions taken and outcome of your complaint;
- be given reasons that explain decisions affecting you;
- be treated with courtesy and respect;
- communicate valid concerns and views without fear of reprisal or other unreasonable response;
- one review of the decision on your complaint.
You are responsible for:
- treating the Ombudsman staff with courtesy and respect;
- clearly identifying to the best of your ability the issues of the complaint, or asking for help from the Ombudsman staff to assist you in doing so;
- providing to the Ombudsman to best of your ability all the relevant information available to you at the time of making the complaint;
- being honest in all communications with the Ombudsman;
- informing the Ombudsman of any other action you have taken in relation to your complaint;
- cooperating with the staff who are assigned to assess/investigate/resolve/determine or otherwise deal with your complaint.
If complainants do not meet their responsibilities, the Ombudsman may consider placing limitations or conditions on their ability to communicate with staff or access certain services.
The Ombudsman has zero-tolerance for any abuse, threats, or harm directed toward its staff. Any conduct of this kind may result in a refusal to take any further action on a complaint or to have further dealings with the complainant. Any such conduct of a criminal nature will be reported to police and in certain cases legal action may also be considered.
Ombudsman staff are entitled to:
- determine whether and how a complaint will be dealt with;
- finalize matters on the basis of outcomes they consider to be satisfactory in the circumstances;
- expect honesty, cooperation and reasonable assistance from complainants;
- be treated with courtesy and respect;
- a safe and healthy working environment;
- modify, curtail or decline service (if appropriate) in response to mis-behavior by a complainant.
Ombudsman staff are responsible for:
- providing reasonable assistance to complainants who need help to make a complaint and, where appropriate, during the complaint process;
- dealing with all complaints, complainants and people or organizations the subject of complaint professionally, fairly and impartially;
- giving complainants or their advocates a reasonable opportunity to explain their complaint, subject to the circumstances of the case and the conduct of the complainant;
- giving the subject of a complaint a reasonable opportunity to make their case during the course of any investigation and before any final decision is made;
- informing the subject of investigation, at an appropriate time, about the substance of the allegations made against them and the substance of any proposed adverse comment or decision that they may need to answer or address;
- keeping complainants informed of the actions taken and the outcome of their complaints;
- giving complainants reasons that are clear and appropriate to their circumstances and adequately explaining the basis of any decisions that affect them;
- treating complainants and any individuals who are the subject of a complaint with courtesy and respect at all times and in all circumstances;
- taking all reasonable and practical steps to ensure that complainants are not subjected to any detrimental action in reprisal for making their complaint;
- giving adequate warning of the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
Once made, complaints are effectively ‘owned’ by the office’s complaint handler, who is entitled to decide whether and how each complaint will be dealt with, the resources and priority given to the matter, the powers that will be exercised, the methodology used, the outcome of the matter, etc. Outcomes arising out of a complaint may be considered by the complaint handler to be satisfactory whether or not the complainants, any subjects of complaint, or the agency concerned agrees with or is satisfied with that outcome.
If staff fail to comply with these responsibilities, complainants may complain to the Ombudsman.
Have a Complaint About Our Services?
The Iowa Ombudsman is committed to high standards of practice in our work. We take complaints seriously and aim to address any areas where we have not delivered to the standards we expect of ourselves. We value complaints and continuously strive to improve our services.
If you disagree with a decision we made or are concerned about our service, you should first try to resolve the matter with the person who made the decision or who did not meet your service expectation. If you are unable to resolve the matter, you may request a review of the decision or make a complaint about our service. It is best if you outline your concern in writing.
To enable us to respond effectively to your concern, we will need some specific information. Please identify the decision we made, the action we took, or the inaction on our part that concerns you. It is important that you explain why you disagree with our decision or were dissatisfied with other aspects of our service. Please be as specific as you can. It would also be helpful to us if you would indicate what outcome you are seeking. We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint as quickly as we can. Please note, we reserve the right not to respond to complaints that contain abusive, discriminatory or threatening language directed at our staff.
Iowa Office of Ombudsman
1112 E. Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319
Toll -Free: 1-888-426-6283