The commanding officer has numerous responsibilities related to the Ombudsman Program. COMDTINST 1750.4 (series) provides a complete list of CO’s/OIC’s responsibilities. This checklist will provide a quick reference of items to accomplish and below are some of the responsibilities:
- Establishing and executing the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program per the instruction.
- Appointing an adequate number of ombudsmen.
- Determining the ombudsman’s specific roles and responsibilities.
- Providing a thorough orientation to new ombudsmen.
- Assigning a command POC usually the command master chief (CMC)/or the executive officer and determining which issues will be handled by the POC and which by the CO.
- Ensure the appointed ombudsman information is provided to the servicing HSWL Regional Practice ombudsman coordinator.
- Assign the ombudsman in the CG Ombudsman Registry.
- Ensure the monthly worksheets are entered in the CG Ombudsman Registry.
Confidential information is sensitive information about an active duty, reserve member or family member that is kept within the commanding officer’s designated network of those who have a need to know. It is vitally important that ombudsmen adhere to the strictest code of confidentiality to protect the privacy of individuals and maintain the credibility of the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program.
The Ombudsman Code of Conduct is the foundation upon which an ombudsman’s credibility is established and maintained. Violations of the Code will not be tolerated. Ombudsmen must adhere to the Code of Conduct, which is:
- Maintain confidentiality,
- Support the command’s mission,
- Respect the command and family members,
- Avoid conflicts of interest, and
- Maintain the highest standards of professionalism.
While most information coming to the attention of the ombudsman will be routine in nature, some situations will warrant the attention of the commanding officer and other authorities. COMDTINST 1750.4 (series) states the following issues require immediate attention, as the safety and well-being of an individual takes precedence over one’s right to confidentiality.
- Suspected or known child abuse and neglect,
- Alleged domestic abuse,
- Suspected or potential suicidal risks,
- Suspected or potential homicides, violence or life endangering situations, and
- Other issues identified by the CO/OIC as reportable.
The commanding officer should determine the additional issues to be reported. A process for reporting should also be put into place including which issues the ombudsman should report directly to the commanding officer and which may be reported to the command POC.
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