Ombudsman Grievance Procedure
The Alaska State Ombudsman is committed to resolving citizen’s complaints and grievances fairly, objectively, and respectfully. This includes grievances about our office.
What Do I Do First?
If your concern is that we declined to investigate your complaint, contact the Intake Officer at 907-269-5290. She can answer your questions about why it was declined, and you can explain why you think we should reconsider our decision. For example, we decline complaints when the person doesn’t provide us with the documents or other information we requested. If you have that information available and want to provide it, we can look at re-opening your complaint.
If your concern or complaint is about the closure of a complaint, or how the investigator is handling a complaint, talk with the investigator. Explain why you disagree with the decision or have a problem with the investigation. Often our staff can address your concerns informally.
Who Can Make a Formal Grievance?
Complainants and people directly involved in the investigation of a complaint can make a grievance. This includes state agency staff.
We do not review grievances made by the general public or public interest grievances. We do not review grievances made by third parties on behalf of a complainant, unless the complainant is disabled or otherwise unable to make the grievance themselves.
How Can I Make a Formal Grievance?
Grievances must be made in writing. You can use the form provided online, or you can request a form be sent to you.
Get the grievance form: Ombudsman Grievance Form 2019
You can send a letter or an email. As long as you provide a clear and readable explanation of what you think we did wrong, and how you would like the Ombudsman to respond, that will work. Send your written grievance to:
Mail to: Alaska State Ombudsman Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1500 West Benson Boulevard
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
If you have a disability or other significant barrier (limited English, etc.) that prevents you from sending your concerns in writing, please call 907-269-5290.
What Kinds of Grievances Do You Review?
We will review and consider grievances about:
- the decision to decline a complaint for investigation;
- the decision to discontinue investigation of a complaint;
- undue delay in the investigation of a complaint;
- a specific error or omission in the investigation of a complaint;
- bias or conflict of interest of an investigator; or
- discourteous behavior by a member of the staff.
That is not an exclusive list, so if your grievance is about something else, we could consider it.
There are some decisions we make that are not subject to the grievance procedure. Specifically, we will not review a grievance about:
- a state agency’s objection to a decision to investigate a complaint;
- who is assigned to investigate a complaint, without allegations of specific instances of bias or conflict of interest;
- the specific allegations of the complaint included in the investigation;
- the standards by which the allegations of a complaint are reviewed;
- the findings of the Ombudsman made during an investigation; or
- the acceptance by the Ombudsman of an agency’s actions to resolve a complaint.
What Happens After I Make a Formal Grievance?
You will receive an email or form letter telling you that we have received your grievance. Your grievance will be sent to the Ombudsman to review. If the grievance is about the Ombudsman herself, or an investigation she completed, your grievance will be assigned to an investigator for impartial review.
All grievances are reviewed objectively, and we apply the same standards to our actions that we apply when reviewing a state agency’s actions. The Ombudsman or her designee will look at the information you provided in your grievance, and at your original complaint. She will review the investigation; interview ombudsman staff involved; and if necessary, talk with you and/or the state agency that was involved in your complaint.
You will receive a written response by mail or email within 20 days after your grievance is received. That response will explain what the Ombudsman (or her designee) did to investigate your grievance, whether your grievance was found justified or not, and whether corrective action was taken. If your complaint is re-opened as a result of your grievance, that will be specifically explained in the response. If it will take more than 20 days to complete the review of your grievance, you will receive a letter within the first 20 days that explains what has been done so far and when the Ombudsman (or her designee) expects to have the final response to you.
The Ombudsman's decision about a grievance is not appealable. If you are dissatisfied with the response to your grievance, you can contact you legislators with your concerns.