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Do you know the ombudsman?

The independent, impartial department within the city of Portland investigates other bureaus and agencies to safeguard the rights of citizens and promote fairness, competency, efficiency, and justice.

Sunlight shines on the columns outside Portland City Hall

The ombudsman’s FAQ page is a great place to start if you have a complaint.

*In a high-pitched Gingerbread Man voice*

Do you know the ombudsman? The ombudsman!

If you’re scratching your head and saying, “what,” just know you’re not the only one.

What is an ombudsman?

This strange word does give you a clue — are we buds, man? — essentially, it’s every Portland citizen and business owner’s friend at the city. More specifically, the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent, impartial body under the umbrella of the City Auditor that investigates other governmental bureaus and administrative agencies when complaints of their potential wrongdoing arise. They’re the Rose City’s watchdogs.

It’s possible you caught their recent high-profile report that found Portland Parks & Recreation illegally seized and destroyed boats on the city’s waterways last year. You can explore many other examples of the cases they take on.

How can they help you?

Every month, the three ombudsmen receive around 50 communications from people who feel they’ve been treated unfairly; of those, about 50% are what they call “jurisdictional and actionable,” meaning it’s relevant to something they actually do. They can’t change policy, so this isn’t the place to take your gripes about the Arts Tax.

Whatever your concern may be, you can reach the ombudsman online, by email, by phone at (503) 823-0144, by fax, or even with direct messages on social media. Their services are free and confidential upon request, with an emphasis on resolving conflicts in a timely, non-adversarial manner and promoting higher standards of fairness, competency, efficiency, and justice.