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Nebraska's State Ombudsmen one of a Rare Breed

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Have you ever wondered what the Nebraska ombudsman does and how the position came into being? Nebraska is one of only five states plus Puerto Rico that have an ombudsman. Their job is to investigate and determine whether government actions were fair and reasonable if a citizen encounters problems dealing with an executive branch agency or its employees.

The concept began in 19th-century Sweden with a “Justitieombudsman,” a complaints officer to supervise the observance of laws and statutes and investigate and prosecute governmental wrongdoing. In the United States, Hawaii established the first state ombudsman office in 1967. Iowa and Nebraska created offices later that year, followed by Alaska in 1973, Puerto Rico in 1977 and Arizona in 1995. At the federal level, more than 100 agency-specific offices have been created.

In addition to investigations, Nebraska’s ombudsman, called the Public Counsel, can “initiate or participate in general studies that may enhance knowledge about, or lead to improvements in, the way in which state governmental administrative agencies function.”

More information is available on the Nebraska Public Council web site

and in this Legisbrief from the National Conference of State Legislatures
State Ombudsman Offices Improve Agency Responsiveness

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