The Ombuds Office is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.
Neutrality and Impartiality
The Ombuds Office is designated as neutral, remaining unaligned and impartial. The Ombuds Office does not engage in any situation that could create a conflict of interest. As a neutral party, the Ombuds Office will not advocate for a specific individual, but for equity, fair processes, and compliance with Institute policy and procedure.
The Ombuds Office holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.
The Ombuds Office makes every attempt to maintain confidentiality for its visitors and for those who work with us to resolve issues. This means we do not report to others any information that you bring to us, including your identity and whether or not you have come to the office. Only with your permission do we make exceptions, and we only reveal information to others if you have instructed us to do so. If you tell others that you have consulted with us, we will still maintain confidentiality. Sometimes, visitors later seek to make formal complaints in other arenas within the Institute or outside.
The Ombuds Office does not give witness or offer information in any of these proceedings. Because such participation would undermine the confidentiality offered by the Ombuds Office, we ask that you never seek to draw us into formal proceedings of any kind.
This also implies that when you consult with the Ombuds, the Institute is not on official record for your having reported an incident or made a complaint. There is one situation where the Ombuds Office remains ethically and duty-bound to break confidentiality: when the Ombuds Office believe there is an imminent threat to someone's well-being.
The Ombuds Office, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to its attention.