About the Ombudsman

Photo of J. Kate Burkhart

Kate Burkhart began her term as Alaska State Ombudsman on June 25, 2017. She was reappointed by unanimous vote of the Alaska Legislature for a second term in 2022.

Prior to her appointment, she served as executive director of the Alaska Mental Health Board and Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse from 2007-2017. She was also the executive director of the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council from 2010-2017. She served as an assistant ombudsman in 2006-2007. She served Alaskans in Northwest and Southeast Alaska as an attorney with Alaska Legal Services Corporation from 2001-2006, representing victims of domestic violence, elders, and people experiencing disabilities.

The Office of the Ombudsman was established by the Alaska Legislature in 1975 and is governed by Alaska Statutes 24.55.010-340.

The Ombudsman is selected by the Alaska Legislature's bi-partisan Ombudsman Selection Committee, subject to approval by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature in joint session and by the Governor. The Ombudsman serves for a term of five years and may be reappointed twice.

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The Alaska State Ombudsman investigates citizen complaints about administrative acts of state agencies and determines appropriate remedies. A.S. 24.55


The Alaska State Ombudsman promotes fair and efficient government through objective inquiry and well-reasoned recommendations for meaningful, measurable improvement.

The Ombudsman is not an advocate. We look at complaints with an independent, objective, and neutral eye. The Ombudsman investigates to determine whether an agency’s actions were unlawful, unreasonable, unfair, arbitrary, erroneous, or inefficient. If appropriate, the Ombudsman will recommend a way to resolve the complaint and/or prevent future complaints.

Ombudsman investigations are confidential. When there is a substantial public interest involved, the Ombudsman will publish a public summary of an investigation, findings, and any recommendations.

Core Values

The core values of the Alaska State Ombudsman are Objectivity, Curiosity, Respect, Integrity, and Public Service.

Objectivity: We are committed to reviewing citizen complaints without bias or preconception.

Curiosity: We are committed to looking carefully at citizen complaints and the larger context in which they arise. We are also committed to a culture of perpetual learning and discovery.

Respect: We are committed to treating everyone with respect and compassion, to listening to understand, and to maintaining a work environment that fosters acceptance, compassion, and understanding.

Integrity: We are committed to performing our work with honesty, fairness, and authenticity and in accordance with professional and statutory ethical guidelines.

Public Service: We are committed to helping people resolve their complaints individually and to improving the effectiveness and equity of government systems.