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Values and Courage


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Report of the Ombudsman 2009

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Values and Courage

  1. 1.                   LETTER  FROM  THE  OMBUDSMAN  Dear Colleagues, If there were a 15 del mes quotation to introduce this fourth Annual Report from the Officeof the Ombudsman, it would surely be: Sero sed serio – late, but in earnest. 2009 had in commonwith 2008 the many distractions and challenges of trying to manage two Ombudsman officessimultaneously, PAHO’s in Washington and WHO’s in Geneva. This inevitably required triage, andit is fair to say that I gave priority to people over report-writing. Our commitment is that the 5threport – for 2010 – will be issued before the end of this year, by which time we will have caught upwith the calendar. This Report reflects the divided attention, multiple responsibilities, and demandsfor energy and organization which were required by the expanded coverage. One change and one new feature appear for the first time here. First, with due respect forthe financial and budgetary limitations the Organization is facing, we decided not to publish a printversion of this document. It appears, as do the three preceding Reports, on the Office’s website, inEnglish and Spanish; a limited number of CD-ROMs will be produced for distribution. Theinnovation is the Office’s first report card, based on confidential responses to a User Evaluationgiven to visitors at the conclusion of their cases. This first formal evaluation of the Office by thosewho have used it appears in chapter 10. One main theme of this report is reflected in the title, Values and Courage. While we aremindful of PAHO’s stated values – Equity, Excellence, Solidarity, Respect, Integrity – putting thosevalues into practice, seeing them reflected in our work and relationships, is often a challenge. Thecomments that appear under “Accountability” (chapter 9) are an effort to invite reflection andencourage dialogue about the courage required to uphold those values and how we as individualscan strengthen the Organization’s work on behalf of health for all in the Americas. As always, your reactions and opinions are welcome and appreciated. Respectfully, Wallace Meissner Ombudsman 2
  2. 2. VALUES    AND    COURAGE REPORT  OF  THE  OMBUDSMAN   PAN  AMERICAN  HEALTH  ORGANIZATION   2009         Wallace  Meissner   Ombudsman       525  Twenty-­‐third  Street,  N.W.,   Washington,  D.C.  20037   3
  3. 3. “Courage is the first among human qualities because it is the one on which all othersdepend.” Aristotle[El valor es la primera entre las cualidades humanas porque de él dependen todas las demás.] HOW    TO    CONTACT    THE    OFFICE    OF    THE  OMBUDSMAN  Wallace Meissner (202) 974-3587Ombudsman meissnew@paho.orgMobile (Missions) (202) 330-2946Harbey Peña Sandoval (202) 974-3586Assistant to the Ombudsman penasand@paho.orgMore Information: Digital Magazine: Organization of American States 1889 F Street, N.W. (corner of 19th & F Streets, N.W.) Room OAS 310 4
  4. 4. CONTENTS   Page1. Introduction 62. An Overview: Roles, Principles and Tools of the Office of the Ombudsman 83. Terms and Terminology 104. Profiles: Visitors to the Office of the Ombudsman 125. Issues: Why Have People Consulted the Ombudsman? 176. Contacts with the Office of the Ombudsman 287. Outcomes 298. Additional Ombudsman Activities 319. Commentary and Recommendations 3410. User Evaluations – Office of the Ombudsman 4111. Acknowledgements 47 APPENDICESA. Office of the Ombudsperson: Appointment and Terms of Reference 49B. International Ombudsman Association (IOA): Database Reporting Categories (Version 1, 2006) 54C. IOA Code of Ethics 56D. IOA Standards of Practice 58E. User Evaluation – Office of the Ombudsman 61F. 15th of the Month: Aphorisms, Proverbs and Saying from the Office of the Ombudsman (January – December 2009) 64 5
  5. 5.  1.    INTRODUCTION   The Ombudsperson shall issue an annual report on his/her activities to the Director and to the Staff Association. The report will contain statistical information on the number of cases or problems, their nature, whether or not an intervention was required and their current general status in terms of resolution. It will also contain an overall assessment of the work done, and may include general comments, feedback and recommendations on aspects of the Ombudsperson’s functions and factors affecting staff morale and well- being as observed during the period covered by the report. This annual report will be made available to all staff. - Office of the Ombudsperson, Terms of Reference, Section 7 This is the fourth Report issued under the current Terms of Reference for the Office of theOmbudsperson. It covers the period from 1 January to 31 December 2009. Consistent with therequirements of Section 7, this Report is being published electronically in English and Spanish, andwill be available on the Office’s website to everyone who works in a PAHO workplace throughoutthe region. For the first time, this report provides a three-year comparative analysis, in graphic figures aswell as text, for 2007, 2008 and 2009. It is important to note that during the second half of 2008and the first half of 2009, the Office served WHO and related organizations (see Letter from theOmbudsman) as well as PAHO, which had a substantial impact on the year-to-year comparisons dueto the combination of WHO and PAHO cases. While the total numbers (visitors, contacts, issues,outcomes) do present an accurate description of work undertaken during those years, the datashould be understood to include both PAHO and WHO matters. This Report includes: • An overview of the principles, roles and tools of the Office of the Ombudsman; • A definition of the terms and terminology used in the Report; • A summary of visitor profiles, issues presented, actions or interventions undertaken by the Ombudsman to address visitors’ concerns, and outcomes; 6
  6. 6. • A description of additional activities of the Ombudsman in 2009; • Commentary and recommendations; • A summary of User Evaluations of the Office collected through 2009; and, • Various appendices. As with the three earlier Reports, this document presents a statistical picture of the Office’scasework through a system developed by the International Ombudsman Association, DatabaseReporting Categories. In nine (9) broad categories and dozens of sub-categories, this frameworkhelps organize and describe the different issues and concerns that bring people to the Office. This Report uses the original Version 1, created in 2006. A second, Version 2, waspublished in October 2007; however, to facilitate accurate comparisons, the original version hasbeen retained, and appears as Appendix B. Also, please note that throughout this Report the words Ombudsman, Ombudsperson andOmbuds are used interchangeably. 7
  7. 7. 2.  OVERVIEW:    PRINCIPLES,  ROLES  AND  TOOLS  OF  THE  OFFICE  OF  THE  OMBUDSMAN  The Office of the Ombudsman represents a commitment byPAHO to the well-being of its employees and to improvements in Much  like  the  the policies, rules and practices that affect the workplace lighthouses  that  environment. While the Office of the Ombudsperson: Appointment and stand  on  shore  to  Terms of Reference (see Appendix A) provides a detailed picture of theOrganization’s specific guidelines for the Office, it may be help  protect  those  worthwhile to outline again the most important principles defining at  sea…  the Ombudsman’s role at PAHO. The following four concepts or ethical principles (International Ombudsman AssociationCode of Ethics, see Appendix C) are the foundation for the Office of the Ombudsman: • Confidentiality – No disclosures are made without explicit consent of a visitor; no records are kept, and all notes are destroyed when a matter is concluded; the only exception being in a case that presents “imminent risk of serious harm.” • Neutrality/Impartiality – The interests of individuals as well as the Organization are kept in mind; “sides” are not taken, and no one person or group is favored over another; the Office does not provide legal advice or representation. • Independence – The Office of the Ombudsman functions outside of the formal organizational hierarchy and has its own budget, space and identity; no traditional reporting relationship is maintained between the Ombudsman and PAHO’s Administration. Administrative (budget and financial) support is provided by the Office of the Deputy Director. • Informality – The Ombudsman is not a decision-maker; rather, the Ombudsman attempts to address problems at the earliest opportunity and lowest level of conflict; serves as a sounding board, devil’s advocate, agent of reality, coach, mediator and facilitator; conducts only informal investigations; provides appropriate referrals; may influence others to take action while specifically lacking the authority to make decisions himself regarding those actions; and neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of, the Organization. Much like the lighthouses that stand on shore to help alert, advise and protect ships at sea,the Office of the Ombudsman has several analogous functions, including: 8
  8. 8. • First Watch – The Office sends a signal of protection to the Organization at large; serves as an advocate for important institutional values and principles such as fairness, respect, justice, civility, integrity; and promotes the fairness of processes. • Safe Haven – The Office makes every effort to be an accessible resource, with as few barriers as possible, to help staff members address workplace issues in a safe, supportive and private setting. Access is everyone’s right and recourse is voluntary. • Early Warning System – The Office acts as an observer and forecaster, providing timely feedback to prevent avoidable harm to individuals and to the Organization. It flags and reports critical issues and multiple incidents, identifies and surfaces possibly hidden concerns, and notifies managers and administrators of urgent situations before they worsen. • Change Agent – The Office notes discrepancies between individual and organizational goals and practices, the difference between what we say and what we do; identifies recurring issues, trends or concerns of a structural nature; makes periodic recommendations for constructive systems change; and tries to help the Organization expand its capacity to acknowledge and face inevitable problems. While everyone working at PAHO is entitled to assistance from the Office of theOmbudsman, it is also important to note that the Ombudsman also has direct access to allpersonnel, including the Director and other officials. He also has access to personnel records, withthe exceptions of protected medical records and records of an ongoing investigation before itscompletion. Through voluntary, confidential and informal meetings, much of the Ombudsman’s worksimply involves honest and direct conversation. The Ombudsman tries to identify issues andinterests – what is important to a visitor and why – in order to facilitate discussions that exploresolutions and strategies to improve a wide variety of situations. When all parties involved in adispute are interested and willing, it is often possible to foster useful dialogues, help improvecommunication, mediate disputes and disagreements, and help people move forward constructively. At other times, and only with the knowledge and consent of a visitor, the Ombudsmanshares information with those officials who have the authority to make decisions or bring aboutchange. The Ombudsman serves as a liaison between individuals or groups for communication ofimportant messages to the appropriate level of management or the Administration. Above all, the Ombudsman listens to and considers all concerns and problems thatemployees wish to share. 9
  9. 9. 3.    TERMS  AND  TERMINOLOGY   Albert Einstein reportedly had a sign in his office that read: “Not everything that counts canbe counted. Not everything that can be counted counts.” We have done our best to keep this cautionary advice in mind. In all of the Reportssubmitted to date, it has been our policy to present statistical information that meaningfullydescribes the work of the Office, without overwhelming the reader with data that do little toenlighten or clarify. In reviewing statistical information presented in this Report, as well as thecommentary and recommendations, it is important to understand the methodology behind thecalculations, that is, what the numbers represent. Accordingly, certain key terms which appearthroughout the Report are defined below. Case A case is a person who has brought an issue to the Ombudsman’s attention, often referredto in this Report as a “visitor” to the Office of the Ombudsman. One case often involves morethan one issue. Conversely, when several people approach the Office together to discuss the sameconcern, several cases may be connected with one issue. Issue Issues are those concerns about which the Ombudsman is consulted for advice, informationor action. The issues reported here are only those issues for which the Ombudsman providedinformation or for which possible solutions were explored. In reality, there are few cases that can be accurately defined by a single issue. By way ofexample, in a hypothetical case involving a disagreement between a supervisor (first level) andsomeone supervised by him or her, the latter might appear at the Office of the Ombudsmancomplaining of harassment (Database Reporting Category 5.c), suffering from stress-relatedsymptoms (6.i), and objecting to the supervisor’s recent performance evaluation (2.d). Inquiry overtime may indicate that there is poor and infrequent communication between them (2.m), that eachfeels a lack of respect on the part of the other (2.k), that there have been ineffective or unsuccessfulefforts by the manager to address the situation (2.f), and that the departmental climate is consideredgenerally unpleasant (2.e). In such a case (or two cases, if the supervisor is contacted and participates in efforts to seeka resolution), it is impossible, and seems inappropriate, to assign only one or even two databasecategories to the scenario. Accordingly, all issues that emerged from cases in 2009 are documented 10
  10. 10. in this Report, without any attempt to decide whether, for example, the issue of respect is more orless important than the issue of communication. Approaching issue-identification inclusively isintended to provide a fuller and more nuanced picture of the atmosphere in which so manyconcerns and problems come to light. So while the number of cases is indicative of the level ofactivity of the Office during 2009, the number and kinds of issues might be considered a betterqualitative measure of “conditions of employment, working conditions and relations betweensupervisors, supervisees, colleagues and working groups.”1 In this Report, 356 issues are identified for 107 new cases opened in 2009. Post/Contract Classification For purposes of this report, and to avoid any risk of compromising the privacy andconfidentiality of visitors, distinctions among the many types of contract mechanisms and postclassifications have been simplified. Therefore, the reporting categories are divided into three broadgroups: (1) Director (D) and Professional (P) categories; (2) General Services (GS) category; and (3)“Other,” which includes National Professionals (NAP), National Officers (NO), National Staff(CLT), National Staff Local Conditions (CLT Temp), Short Term Consultants (STC), Ministry ofHealth (MOH), Agency in Field Offices (AGNF), When Actually Employed (WAE), Instituto deNutrición de Centroamérica y Panamá (INCAP), Interns, Volunteers, Retirees, etc. Contacts Contacts are communications or interactions with the Ombudsman or Office staff inperson, by telephone, by e-mail or by any other written communication.1 See Appendix A, Terms of Reference, Section 3.4 (a) 11
  11. 11. 4.    PROFILES:    VISITORS  TO  THE  OFFICE  OF  THE  OMBUDSMAN   As in 2008, the statistical profile of visitors to the Office of the Ombudsman during 2009was considerably affected by the appointment of the PAHO Ombudsperson as Staff Ombudsman,a.i., for the World HealthOrganization in Geneva, beginningin June 2008. Upon the retirementon 31 May 2008 of the WHO StaffOmbudsman, David Miller, WHOformally requested that PAHOprovide ombudsman services whileselections were finalized for the twoombudsman posts resident in thatoffice. While it was anticipated thatthis coverage would last for a periodof 6-10 weeks, unfortunately, neitherrecruitment was successful. Arenewed recruitment process wasinitiated, and as a result my With  Colleagues,  Donna  Douglass  Williams  (WHO),  Arturo  Pesigan  (WPRO)  assignment in the WHO office and  Athanase  Hagengimana  (WHO),  8th  Annual  UNARIO,  Meeting,    Bangkok  continued until June 2009. WHO’s Office of Staff Ombudsmen, as described in Dr Miller’s final Report (UnfinishedBusiness, 2007), “is relatively unusual in its design and mandate, insofar as it is effectively a multi-agency office operating as a shared resource by a very scattered constituency.” Offices coveredinclude: WHO Headquarters, Geneva WHO SEARO UNAIDS globally GFATM Geneva2 IARC Lyon WKC Kobe ICC Geneva WWB Washington WAC Addis Ababa WDC Washington WEU Brussels WMC Tunis WUN New York2 The administrative agreement between WHO and the Global Fund, which ended 31 December 2008, effectively removed GFATM employeesas a group covered by the WHO Office of Staff Ombudsman. 12
  12. 12. I made several week-long visits to Geneva during the second half of 2008, while servicesrelated to WHO constituencies were provided by phone and e-mail while I was in Washington. Inorder to accurately present the Office’s 2009 activity, this Report includes a separate category, under“Location”, labeled “Other”, to incorporate visitors from the WHO-related offices listed above.The data from those cases are included together with those from PAHO matters and categorized inthe same way. In 2009 the Office of the Ombudsman received 107 new visitors from Headquarters,Country Offices and Centers, and WHO and related offices. As would be expected, some casesremained pending from 2008. 356 issues were identified, a mean of 3.3 per case. As in the Office’searlier Reports, geographic origin of cases by specific Country Office, Center, or Area has beenomitted in order to safeguard the confidentiality of contacts with the Office. The following illustrations identify visitors by location, gender, type of post (grade) orcontract classification, and method of first contact with the Office.LOCATION     Figure 1 shows the breakdown ofvisitors by location, and distinguishes thosevisitors from PAHO Headquarters (31%),Country Offices and Centers (38%), andWHO and related offices served by theOffice of Staff Ombudsman (31%). As in2008, nearly one-third of the case activity(31%) in 2009, 33 cases in all, involvedWHO-related matters. For PAHO-relatedcases only, there was a decline in total casesfrom 100 to 74. While PAHO CountryOffice/Center cases remained nearlyconstant on a percentage basis (from 39% in2008 to 38% in 2008), as did casesoriginating from PAHO Headquarters (29%to 31%), the number of cases from eachlocation declined. The 2008-2009 statisticalcomparison, shown in figure 2, clearlyreflects the significant demands placed onthe Office’s resources as a result of theWHO/HQ commitment. 13
  13. 13. INITIAL  CONTACTS   With our principal office situated inWashington and fully two-thirds of PAHOcolleagues living and working elsewhere,communication is both challenging andindispensable. In 2009, approximately half(52%) of the initial contacts with the Officewere made in person. The remainder was fairlyevenly divided between contact by e-mail (26%)and telephone (22%). Figure 3 illustrates themajority of initial contacts made in personduring 2009, and Figure 4 provides a year-to-year illustration for 2007-2009. The Office continues to address privacyand confidentiality concerns faced by potentialvisitors, both in Washington and in thecountries. Before arriving at Country Offices orCenters for informational missions, the Officesends a general pre-arrival message to all staff,with a copy of the Terms of Reference, invitingany interested people to make contact with theOffice in advance of the Ombudsman’s departure. The confidentiality of all contacts is stressed. During visits, and frequently at Headquarters in Washington, appointments are arranged atlocations away from PAHO offices. This helps to ease concerns about being observed or talkedabout by colleagues mindful of a work environment still too often saturated with speculation, gossipand misinformation. The Office’s Blackberry (202-330-2946) helps enable communications afterbusiness hours and on weekends. And during missions away from Washington, the Ombudsmanwelcomes meetings at any time and place that visitors prefer.GENDER   Figure 5 provides a breakdown of 2009 visitors to the Office by gender. The breakdownwas 32% male (34 visitors) and 68% female (73 visitors). 14
  14. 14. These numbers have remained nearlyconstant over the period of the Office’s fourReports. The 38% male/62% femaledivision in 2007 was followed by nearlyidentical percentages, 36% male/64%female, during 2008 (Figure 6). Of the 1783 total employees workingat PAHO as of 31 December 2009, 40 percent were male and 60 percent female, sousers of the Office are reasonably closelyaligned with their proportions within theOrganization.3 It is important to the Officethat, regardless of the gender of theOmbudsperson, all PAHO employees findthe Office accessible in a way that they feelcomfortable making contact. To date, thisseems borne out by user survey data (seechapter 10).      POST  /  CONTRACT  TYPE   The Office appears generally to be atrusted resource for visitors who contact it,regardless of their contractual affiliation withPAHO. Among those with UN contracts,staff in the Director and Professional gradecategory continued to be the most frequentvisitors to the Office, slightly more than half(47%) by percentage, a decrease of 6 percent from the year before (which reflected a6 per cent increase from the year before).Those visitors in the General Servicescategory increased by an identical 6 per cent in 2009, from 17% to 23%. And as shown in Figure 7,the Office’s visitors listed under “Others” (which includes those employees who are locallyrecruited, National Professionals (NAP), Special Services Agreements (SSA), those assigned by3 As of 31 December 2009, HRM/HQ reported 1783 active employees of PAHO (Headquarters, Country Offices and Centers, all categoriesand contract types), 1061 female, 721 male. 15
  15. 15. Ministries of Health or recruited by local employment agencies, etc.), remained the same as the yearbefore, 30 per cent of the total. The comparisons between 2007, 2008 and 2009 appear in Figure 8. 16
  16. 16. 5.  ISSUES:  WHY  HAVE  PEOPLE  CONSULTED  THE  OMBUDSMAN?   Figure 9 illustrates thecollection of 356 issues assignedto the 107 cases opened in 2009,a mean of slightly more thanthree (3) issues per case. Figure10 provides a comparison withissues presented in 2007 and2008. All nine broad categoriesthat comprise the InternationalOmbudsman Association (IOA)Database Reporting Categoriessystem (see Appendix B) areincluded in this Report. Theyappear graphically in descendingorder of magnitude for 2009. It is important to remindthe reader that the aggregateddata reported here include allcases handled by the Office in2009, both PAHO as well as WHO. Because nearly one-third of the total cases were WHO-related,the analysis and commentary below should be understood to apply collectively to bothorganizations. The same three categories whose aggregate represented 69% of all issues in the first Report,Work in Progress (2006), 68% in the second, Building Trust (2007), and 68% again in the third,Commitment (2008), combined to produce 67% of all issues connected with visitors’ concerns during2009. Those three categories are: • Evaluative Relationships (121 = 34%) • Organizational, Strategic and Mission-Related (74 = 21%) • Career Progression and Development (43 = 12%) The consistency over four consecutive years is noteworthy and suggests that both the Officeand the Organization would do well to consider the meaning of the preeminence of these issuesthat seem to affect employees the most. In 2009, the fourth and fifth largest categories were Peer 17
  17. 17. and Colleague Relationships (9%); and, Employee Compensation & Benefits (8%). In all,these five most prominent categories represented 84% of all issues recorded. Each broad categorycontains detailed sub-categorieswhich provide a more specificpicture of the workplace issuesaddressed by the Office of theOmbudsman. The followingeighteen (18) illustrations showbreakdowns for each of nine (9)broad categories reported, indescending order based on thefrequency of their appearancein 2009. Percentages refer tothe sub-categories within thenine broad categories.Following each of the ninecategory charts are illustrationsreflecting comparisons with theprior two years (2007, 2008),where applicable.  EVALUATIVE    RELATIONSHIPS   Consistently throughout the past four years, relationships between supervisors and thosereporting to them have been the source of more concern and contentiousness than any other area.In one respect, this is probably unsurprising – no doubt PAHO is similar to many of its sisteragencies and organizations and, indeed, other workplaces worldwide. A summary of this categoryin figure 11 reveals 121 of the total issues reported in 2009 (356), or 34%. Five areas stand out inthe frequency of their appearance among concerns presented to the Office: SupervisoryEffectiveness (in 22 cases), Respect/Treatment (17), Performance Appraisal/Grading (13),Departmental Climate (12), and Equality of Treatment (11), almost two-thirds of all issuesinvolving supervision. To repeat a hopeful perspective regarding ways to address this aspect of ourworkplaces, it remains the view of the Office that “each and every one of these five areas issusceptible to thoughtful exploration, analysis and improvement. These are areas where well-intentioned individuals can work together to improve conditions through good faith efforts aimed 18
  18. 18. at understanding, improvement orchange.”4 Figure 12 provides a detailedcomparison of sub-issues collected for thepast three years, 2007-2009. The Office continues to encourageand applaud those managers who use theOffice of the Ombudsperson strategically,as a sounding board, to discusscomplicated or difficult supervisorymatters before they have become seriousproblems. For the Consultation sub-category, there were 9 instances in 2009(compared with 11 in 2008, 14 in 2007),and we hope that more managers andsupervisors will feel comfortable raisingissues as a preventative measure. These numbers also suggest thatthe Organization would benefit from amulti-faceted analysis and discussion(including EXM, the Staff Association,HRM, ETH, IES and OMB) of how it isaddressing the topic of supervisors-supervisees, with an eye toward designingways to improve the harmony andeffectiveness of these relationships.Having collected data over four years, andwith the recognition that this area ofconcern consistently represents the mostprevalent among the nine categories, thesubject is addressed in greater detail laterin this Report as one primary theme (seeCommentary and Recommendations,chapter 9).4 Commitment, Report of the Ombudsman, 2008, p. 16. 19
  19. 19. ORGANIZATIONAL,  STRATEGIC,  AND  MISSION-­‐RELATED   A significant 21% of the issues in 2009 issues were covered by the category, Organizational,Strategic and Mission-Related (74), twice the percentage from 2008 and close to the percentagereported in 2007 (19%). Figure 13 provides a breakdown of this cluster of issues that generallyreflect visitors’ concerns about the Organization as a whole, its structure, or some major part.Comparisons to 2007 and 2008 appear in Figure 14. “Organizational Climate,” which is defined in the IOA database categories as “issues related to organizational morale and/or capacity for functioning,” deserves a few additional comments. As reflected in figure 14, this concern has been consistently raised by visitors to the Office (2007=27, 2008 =20, 2009=19) and is generally connected to anxieties about the direction we’re headed and morale in general. It is sometimes difficult to identify one specific source for this sub-category – it may in some cases have to do with dismay over a particular selection for a management or supervisory position; perhaps dejection about general tendencies or 20
  20. 20. changes in duties or program structure; non-recognition; a lack of confidence in procedural fairness,such as performance evaluations or effective measures to address misconduct – often it simplyreflects a general feeling of malaise.CAREER  PROGRESSION  &  DEVELOPMENT     The category of Career Progressionand Development, depicted in figure 15,contributed the third largest number ofissues (43) in 2009, with the 11 casesrelated to Tenure/PositionSecurity/Ambiguity being the mostprevalent, followed by CareerDevelopment/Coaching/Mentoring(9). One-quarter (11) of the 43 issuescounted here in 2009 were WHO-related.Figure 16 shows the three-yearcomparison, 2007-2009.                       21
  21. 21. PEER  &  COLLEAGUE  RELATIONSHIPS       Peer & Colleague Relationships occupied the fourth largest category of issues in 2009, 31, or slightly less than 9% of all issues counted. As a percentage, 2009 was nearly identical to 2008. Figure 17 provides a description of the sources of these difficulties in peer relations. There was a fairly even dispersal of causes for conflict involving peers (non-supervisory relationships), among Priorities, Values, Beliefs (6), Respect/Treatment (6), Trust/Integrity (5), Communication (6), and Bullying/Mobbing (6). Figure 18 contains the comparative analysis from 2007 to 2009.                             22
  22. 22. EMPLOYEE  COMPENSATION  AND  BENEFITS   Cases arising out of compensation and benefits questions or concerns continue to represent a small but consistent group, as shown in Figure 19 below. The 30 issues in 2009 were comparable in number with previous years, 22 and 34 in 2008 and 2007, respectively. There were 12 benefits-related issues in all three years, reflected in the comparative presentation in Figure 20.            VALUES,  ETHICS  AND  STANDARDS   In spite of a smaller number of total visitors in 2009 (107), it is interesting to note that thoseissues described by the category Values, Ethics and Standards (20) have remained essentiallyconstant in number during the past three years (2007=19, 2008=19). Figure 21 presents the 2009issues, while Figure 22 offers the three-year comparison. Most of the visitors for whom these issuesapplied consulted the Office regarding interpretations of PAHO’s Code of Ethical Principles and 23
  23. 23. Conduct, or the application of the Organization’s Staff Rules and Staff Regulations. Often the Officeis able to clarify these or quietly obtain information or opinions from the Ethics Office or HumanResources Management, especially when visitors wish to remain anonymous.LEGAL,  REGULATORY,  FINANCIAL  AND  COMPLIANCE   After the notable increase in 2008 of cases described by the category labeled Legal,Regulatory, Financial and Compliance (from 11 in 2007 to 41 in 2008), there were far fewer of theseissues reported in 2009. Figure 23 shows the five sub-categories capturing 18 issues reported. The sub-category for Harassment again invites a brief additional comment. There were 9such cases reported which, while fewer than the 15 cases in 2008, represented a significant fraction,8.4%, of total cases (107) addressed by the Office. While I have purposely avoided reportingseparately those matters that emanated from PAHO and those from WHO (and related agencies 24
  24. 24. and organizations) in this Report, it is fair to note, for information and accuracy, that all nine (9)harassment-related cases in 2009 originated from WHO. Figure 24 provides the comparativeillustration for 2007-2009. As mentioned previously, the Others sub-category includes certain cases involving consultations about legal matters unrelated to the workplace (e.g., landlord/tenant, immigration, separation and divorce). While the Ombudsman can not provide formal legal advice to individuals, it is the Office’s policy to provide information and assistance whenever possible, and to refer visitors appropriately.SAFETY,  HEALTH  AND  PHYSICAL  ENVIRONMENT   Figure 25 presents the 11 issues in 2009, as compared with 14 in 2008 and 17 in 2007,included under the broad category described as Safety, Health and Physical Environment. Figure26 shows the year-to-year comparisons, which indicates a noticeable decrease in reported casesfrom 2007 to 2009. While this area remains small numerically, it continues to attract attention 25
  25. 25. especially because of the sub-category (6.i) dedicated to Work-Related Stress and Work-Life Balance issues. There were 6 such cases reported in 2009, a fairly significant decline from 11 in 2008. However, that number still represents 5.6% of the total cases, as compared with more than 7% of the cases received by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2008.          SERVICES  /  ADMINISTRATIVE  ISSUES   This category appears for only the second time in this Annual Report for 2009. Its 8 issuesare the fewest of the nine broad categories. The types of concern covered by this category includeprimarily Administrative Decisions and Interpretation /Application of Rules, represented infigure 27 by only 3 of 8 issues reported. The 5 remaining issues, falling underResponsiveness/Timeliness, generally relate to frustrations encountered by employees seeking 26
  26. 26. information or clarifications regarding their conditions of employment or entitlements. Figure 28shows the two-year comparison, 2008-2009.           27
  27. 27.  6.  CONTACTS  WITH  THE  OFFICE  OF  THE  OMBUDSMAN   Figure 29, Contacts with the Office, illustrates the number of visits, conversations orwritten communications connected with each of the 107 cases opened in 2009. To some extent,this graphic offers a descriptive portrait of the relative complexity and demands of the manydifferent kinds of issues and concernsthat bring visitors to the office. Aswould be expected, someconsultations are necessarily brief,such as a request for informationabout a rule, regulation or policy, or asimple request for a referral, whilemore complex matters frequentlyrequire six or more contacts,interventions or follow-up beforethey can be concluded or resolved. In2009, 57% of the total cases (107)required only one or two contacts,43% three or more. Data for 2009 reflected a decrease not only in total cases (2008 = 148, 2009 = 107), but alsoa significant decrease in the number of cases that involved six or more contacts, 22 in 2008, 10 in 2009, a number much more in line with 2007 (12). The comparisons are shown in Figure 30. Also apparent is the steady decline in cases requiring only one contact – 41 in 2007, 28 in 2008, 23 in 2009. Inevitably there is a certain randomness in these statistics, because “every case takes as long as it takes,” to state the obvious, and there is no relationship between the time demands for cases of unrelated visitors. Time and patience are an Office’s common currency. 28
  28. 28. 7.  OUTCOMES           Figure 31 presents outcomesfor 107 cases opened during 2009,including those consideredcompleted/resolved (90 = 84%), thosereferred to some other PAHO/WHOresource or outside office (16 = 15%),and the remaining one (1) caseresulting in a formal appeal orgrievance. No cases remained pendingat year’s end. Figure 32 offerscomparative information for 2007 and2008. The rate of completion in 2009was almost identical to that in 2008,which was 86%. Then as now, it isimportant to restate an explanatorynote, from section 7 of the 2008Report, Commitment: “Completed and resolved areconjoined as completed/resolved for areason: many cases that reach theOffice can be convincingly describedas completed when the visitor whosefile has been closed would not in theleast consider his or her matterresolved, for the simple reason thatmany workplace problems and puzzlesare insoluble from the standpoint of leaving all parties satisfied with outcomes and pleased with thepractical results that they take away with them. In many of such “completed” cases, a candid visitormight say that things had improved slightly, tensions had eased, or perhaps that he or she felt betterable to cope with a situation that remained essentially unchanged. Other visitors, such asdisappointed candidates who questioned the fairness of a selection process, might well haveappreciated the Office’s informal investigation of the selection committee proceedings but still befrustrated or dubious about the outcome. Still, such cases are unequivocally completed from astatistical perspective. Semantic distinctions are important here. 29
  29. 29. “It also bears repeating that the Office views “successful” (as well as “completed”) outcomesas those in which the equity or fairness of a process has been confirmed; or when the Office hasserved as an effective advocate for organizational values; or when systemic, structural or policyissues are reviewed, reconsidered or given priority by Executive Management (such as contractreform or a review of the internal justice system); or when a crisis of potentially significant risk tothe Organization or to an individual has been averted. Parties may remain less than satisfied, so onemight characterize such outcomes as, ‘completed, if not resolved, but slightly better than before.’ ” Actions and interventions by the Office included: • Providing information or clarification of rules, policies, procedures and practices; • Informal investigation and communication of relevant information; • Assistance to insure a fair process, regardless of outcome; • Voluntary facilitated discussions between colleagues facing difficulties in relationships; • Bringing matters to the attention of managers or administrators with authority to act, while preserving confidentiality of contacts; • Informally monitoring specific actions (e.g., selection processes, appointment confirmations, performance evaluations) when concerns about bias, unfairness or prejudice have been raised; • Developing effective strategies by exploring a range of available options with a visitor; • Immediate, urgent attention to critical situations involving harassment, bullying or abuse of authority; and, • Serving informally as sounding board, devil’s advocate, agent of reality, or coach. The Office of the Ombudsperson, functioning within the Organization’s Terms ofReference, and consistent with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the InternationalOmbudsman Association, has an array of tools at its disposal and many ways to be helpful toindividuals and to contribute constructively to the betterment of PAHO. Our aim is to serve as aresource helping colleagues prevent, manage, limit and resolve workplace concerns and conflicts atthe earliest opportunity. Put another way, while the Office can not be “all things to all people,” itcan, and should be, “some things to all people.” 30
  30. 30.  8.  ADDITIONAL  OMBUDSMAN  ACTIVITIES     Much like 2008, calendar year 2009 was unusual for the Office of the PAHO Ombudsmandue to the Ombudsman’s continuing duties as Staff Ombudsman, a.i., for the Office of the StaffOmbudsman at WHO/HQ. As mentioned in the introductory letter, the responsibilities anddemands of that assignment for the first half of the year (January-June 2009) affected the plan ofwork, missions to Country Offices and Centers, report writing, and general availability. On 14 May2009, WHO announced the appointment of two new Ombudsmen to staff its office in Geneva; andon 15 July 2009, the last files for WHO-related cases were transferred to the newly-arrivedcolleagues there. Another significant development in 2009 was the Office’s relocation in July from PAHO’sVirginia Avenue building to space in the Organization of American States headquarters building,1889 F Street, N.W. (corner of 19th & F Streets, N.W.), Room 310. This occurred as one result ofthe Organization’s Office Space Study, initiated in June 2008. Notwithstanding the ordinary humanaversion to packing and moving, the new space provided at OAS turned out to be far superior tothat previously occupied in the Viriginia Avenue building. The principal advantage is increasedprivacy due to the five block separation from PAHO’s headquarters building. The Office joinedcolleagues from Procurement and the Staff Association in making the move. Principal activities in 2009 included the following: • PAHO Headquarters Office Space Study, Steering Committee member • International Ombudsman Association, 4th Annual Conference, Montreal (April 2009) • 8th Annual Meeting of the Mediators and Ombudsmen of the United Nations System and Related International Organizations (UNARIO), United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok (September 2009) • Human Resources Focal Points meeting, Washington, D.C., Presentation (September 2009) • Orientation Program for newly appointed PAHO Representatives, Presentation (October 2009) • The Skilled Facilitator: Intensive Workshop, Roger Schwarz & Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C. (26-30 October 2009) As a member of the Organization’s Integrity and Conflict Management System (ICMS), theOmbudsman regularly attended meetings with colleagues and contributed as much as possible tothe development of ideas leading to new or revised policies and procedures, such as the Policy to 31
  31. 31. Protect Against Retaliation for Reporting Wrongdoing or Cooperating in an Investigation or Audit(“Whistleblower”), which became effective in November 2009. The Office’s WHO commitment limited the scope and number of missions to visit PAHOCountry Offices and Centers in 2009. These visits remain a priority for the Office of theOmbudsman, and are intended to accomplish the following objectives: • Introduce the Ombudsman personally and describe the services of the Office of the Ombudsman to staff members in the countries; • Acquaint the Ombudsman with issues of importance to staff in the Country Offices and Centers and learn more about the work and atmosphere in offices outside of Washington, D.C.; and, • Make the Ombudsman available for private consultations with staff members, individually or in groups, in or outside the PAHO offices. Missions to PAHO workplaces in 2009 were: • Honduras (Tegucigalpa, January 2009) • Trinidad & Tobago, CAREC and PHCO (Port of Spain, March 2009) • Bahamas and United States-Mexico Border Office (Nassau and El Paso, June/July 2009)   8th  Annual  UNARIO  Meeting,  Bangkok,  September  2009   32
  32. 32.                             UNARIO  Colleagues,  Donna  Douglass  Williams  (WHO),  Doris  Campos-­‐Infantino  (IDB),     Emmanuel   Liapakis   (ICAO),   John   Barkat   (UN)   and   Fred   Temple   (World   Bank),     Bangkok,  September  2009                                   33
  33. 33.  9.  COMMENTARY  &  RECOMMENDATIONS   Among those things that have not changed since the appearance of the first Report from theOffice (Work in Progress, April 2006-March 2007), one is a persistent hope that these publicationswill serve as “a long and open conversation between the Office of the Ombudsman and everyonewho works for PAHO.” Within a relatively solitary, private workspace, and circumscribed by apledge of confidentiality, these reports are one of the most effective ways for an Ombudsman todescribe the level of activity of the Office and to communicate with the Organization at large on anannual basis. Through this section of Commentary and Recommendations, the Report is also an effort topromote change over time and to initiate discussion and debate within the PAHO community thatcan support an honest and critical self-examination. It is a way to collect and synthesizeimpressions and conclusions based on listening to many distinct voices throughout theOrganization, and to convey a sense of the concerns that seem most important. Other objectives ofthis section are: • Follow-up: review recommendations from previous Reports and note responses, progress or delays; • Share good news: note successes, organizational accomplishments, improvements; • Discuss concerns regarding the issues, policies, practices and trends that affect the entire Organization, while protecting visitors’ privacy; • Note discrepancies between the Organization’s values/goals and actual practices – the difference between what we say and what we do; and, • Make recommendations to prevent recurring problems, reconsider existing policies and improve systems.  CREDITS,  ACCOMPLISHMENTS,  ADVANCES   As highlighted in the 2008 Report (Commitment), a telling feature of an Ombudsman’s officeis the fact that we only see those visitors who choose voluntarily to talk with us, that is, a self-selected fraction of the Organization’s population. We make inferences and draw conclusions 34
  34. 34. based on experiences with those visitors, and the reader will find a detailed picture of these in thepreceding pages of statistical information. During any year at PAHO (or WHO), there are also many events, initiatives, changes,experiments and opportunities that also describe the state of the Organization during that period.In an effort to balance the portrait drawn in these Reports, beginning with the second (BuildingTrust, 2007), I have included a section entitled “Credits, Accomplishments and Advances.” Twosuch examples from 2009: • “When Disaster Strikes, Safe Hospitals Save Lives”, World Health Day, with panel including Dr. Ruth Berggren, Director, Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7 April 2009 The Panel assembled for the day’s program, which included Milagros Kennett (StaffArchitect, Risk Reduction Division, Mitigation Branch, FEMA) and Chris Van Gorder (CEO andPresident, Scripps Health), was impressive, and Dr. Berggren’s address – regarding the daysimmediately following Hurricane Katrina and her work in the HIV/AIDS ward at Charity Hospitalin New Orleans – was captivating and inspiring. The combination of speaker, topic and occasionwas very moving and represented a superb opportunity to connect PAHO’s mission and work withrecent events. • “Performance Management for Supervisors”, WHO department of Global Learning and Performance Management (PML), Workshop • “Would I Hire Me?” and “PMDS Interview” videos, created by WHO Staff Association One of the incidental benefits of the year’s experience as Staff Ombudsman, a.i., for WHO/HQwas the opportunity to learn more about parallel and complementary activities in WHO that mightusefully be incorporated at PAHO. Two initiatives, which involved collaborations between anadministrative department and the WHO Staff Association, were impressive displays not only ofcooperation but of a joint effort to improve performance management and to foster careerdevelopment opportunities. The Global Learning and Performance Management department offered 4-hour workshops for“staff who supervise other WHO staff,” to “assist supervisors to have quality dialogues whensetting performance objectives, selecting competencies, setting priorities and formulating plans fordeveloping staff.” Even a glance at this year’s record for issues involving Performance Appraisals(13) and Supervisory Effectiveness (22) would suggest the usefulness of such workshops at PAHOas well. From the Staff Association side, videos were produced to help staff members appreciate anddevelop skills necessary for successful interviews. At WHO as well as PAHO, internal candidates 35
  35. 35. are frequently disappointed or disillusioned by the difficulties they face as candidates for vacancies.In a video titled “Would I Hire Me?”, notable for its humor and straightforwardness, StaffAssociation members tried to capture some of the many ways in which candidates’ behaviors mightbe self-defeating. Another video prepared by Staff Association actors depicted a PMDS [PPES at PAHO] sessionwhich highlighted how not to conduct such a conversation. Again, humor was used as a tool toengage viewers and encourage both supervisors and those they supervise to consider how theseencounters can be more useful and less stressful. I encourage readers to explore these, and HRM toconsider adopting these ideas. The following section of this Report focuses on three areas considered by the Office to beworthy of comment, discussion and action. Specific recommendations are included, at timesechoing recommendations from earlier Reports. • Planning, Scheduling and Notification • Mentorship and Career Development • Accountability    PLANNING,  SCHEDULING  &  NOTIFICATION       The Office’s second Report, Building Trust (2007), contained this recommendation, under theheading, “Planning & Notification”: Anticipate and facilitate change – personnel, policy, organizational – throughstrategies that provide for better notification and greater accountability. (p. 17) The commentary included this paragraph: “For example, one can not help noting that many events are announced with very littleadvance notice, some on the same day they take place. Certainly many of these events have been inthe planning stages for weeks, even months, yet announcements and invitations have appeared 1-2days prior to the event. Not only does this cast the event with an air of unimportance, but it oftenleads to lost opportunities: many of these programs are very worthwhile and potentially of interestto staff, but when announced (even repeatedly) at the last minute, many employees are by then 36
  36. 36. unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts. If the intended message is, “This is important!Your participation is valued!”, then we need to be better and earlier informed.” The Office could not help but notice that, on at least one occasion in 2009, we did not seemto have made significant progress in this area. On a Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., a Bulletin was sentinviting HQ staff to join the Director “tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. in Room A for a specialevent…” (at which honored guests included Ambassadors and high-ranking health officials).Sixteen minutes later, at 10:16 a.m., a Correction was sent to announce that the event was in facttaking place “today at 10:30 a.m.,” or 14 minutes away. A second “Correction” went out at 10:29a.m. No doubt we can do better; the image of PAHO deserves it. Finally, a comment on the planning and scheduling of mandatory town hall-type eventswhich are presented from time to time in Room A. One example was a 90-minute training on theInternational Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) for which attendance was required. Thepresentation was followed by a mandatory e-quiz for all staff “to assess understanding of IPSAS.”While I sincerely believe that we should all be encouraged to expand our knowledge andunderstanding in areas outside of our day to day work, it seems fair to ask whether such a massivecommitment of time and effort, and a mandatory one at that, reflects the soundest policy and thebest use of time.  MENTORSHIP  AND  CAREER  DEVELOPMENT      “Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.” Anonymous[Mentor: persona cuya mirada hacia atrás puede transformarse en tu mirada hacia adelante.] Anónimo     Encourage career development and advancement by offering coaching workshopsfor serving staff who may compete as internal candidates. Foster a mentorship culture byacknowledging efforts in PPES reviews and through creation of a staff Mentor Award.     A frequent complaint of a number of visitors to the Office concerns various difficulties theyface with career progression and development. Opportunities to apply for positions with moreresponsibility or at a higher grade can seem infrequent. And in fact there have been periods whenbudget and financial considerations have slowed or frozen vacancy announcements for establishedposts. Both in the General Services as well as the Professional categories, staff members expressfrustration with limited hopes of advancement. There is a persistent feeling among some candidatesthat somehow external applicants have an unspecified advantage over internal ones, who feel that 37
  37. 37. being a “known quantity” works against them in selections. This dilemma is magnifiedexponentially for locally-recruited, agency and Ministry employees in Country Offices and Centerswhose chances of securing a U.N. contract are slim. There are a number of ways the Organization can work to address these concerns. Onemight be for HRM to develop a “coaching workshop” for internal candidates that would help thembetter understand the selection criteria and process, advise them how to present their candidaciesmore effectively, and coach them on interview techniques. Another might be to develop (by HRMor, as at WHO, in collaboration with the Staff Association) videos or training modules that illustratesome of these lessons and practices. In the area of mentorship, a recent project from the Canadian Coalition for Global HealthResearch (2007) described such relationships as “an important contributor to building capacitywithin organizations and among individuals. There are many definitions and types of mentorship.Mentorship can be spontaneous or formal, direct or indirect, and short or long-term.” Onesuggestion to strengthen the “culture of mentorship” at PAHO is to establish an award at theannual Awards Ceremony to recognize those colleagues who have demonstrated the generosity,commitment, accessibility and responsibility that characterize true mentors.ACCOUNTABILITY       Let our values – Equity, Excellence, Solidarity, Respect and Integrity – guide notonly our conduct, but also management’s responses to situations which challenge,contradict or defy those values. Encourage, train, support and expect senior managers toset an example as ethical role models. Evaluate, recognize and promote staff accordingly. During the course of 2009, I received a letter (e-mail) from a colleague seeking confidentialadvice about how to handle a specific interaction with his/her supervisor. S/he was near the end ofa 12-month contract and wrote to the Office of the Ombudsman in the form of “a plea to theOrganization.” In conclusion, s/he wrote: “…it’s entirely up to [the Organization] what it toleratesand expects from employees. But to allow him/her to supervise others is really a destructive andirresponsible action on the part of the Organization.” There are many frustrating and dismaying moments in the work of an Ombudsman. Someare connected with our limitations in terms of authority and role. Some have to do with limitsimposed on us by visitors’ insistence on absolute confidentiality. Frequently, one is disappointednot to be able to act more forcefully to uphold the values and policies of our organization. Thismatter fell under this category – after making some suggestions about the particular interactionabout which the writer had consulted me, I could only offer these observations: 38
  38. 38. “I think you are quite right to say that ‘it’s entirely up to [the Organization] what it tolerates and expectsfrom its employees.’ To be candid, my experience…leads me to say that it tolerates far too much and expects far toolittle, especially from its managers, administrators and supervisors. I don’t think we will ever arrive at the day whenworkplaces are free from harassment, abuse of authority, incivility and bullying, certainly not in organizations aslarge, complex, transient, political and diverse as [these]. However, that begs the question what organizations arewilling to do by way of responding appropriately to monitor, prevent, identify, intervene and, when necessary, sanctionimproper behavior and misconduct. Will the Organization have the strength or courage of its convictions? …Because management responses are often weak or absent, too often people in positions of authority achieve impunitydue to a failure to act…” Accountability comes in many forms and descriptions. There is, of course, the kind ofaccountability described by IPSAS (above). There is accountability provided by the Office ofEthics (ETH) and the Office of Internal Oversight and Evaluation Services (IES). There is the sortof accountability associated with meeting deadlines, adhering to policy, following rules andregulations consistently, and communicating in a timely way. The accountability I am concernedwith here has to do with personal and organizational responsibility for reinforcing stated values andrefusing to tolerate unacceptable behavior. There are many reasons why some people appear tooperate with impunity – favoritism, management paralysis, a sense of entitlement or privilege (male,etc.), a perception that some have somehow achieved “untouchable” status, etc. There are alsomany reasons why there is often a “failure to act” – conflict avoidance, fear, lack of interest,imminent retirement or reassignment, anxiety about appearances, passivity, unwillingness to facepossible consequences (complaints, grievances, gossip), even simple bewilderment. Too often,wrongs go unaddressed and the guilty or the bullies carry on as before. Some time ago, a valued colleague and PAHO/WHO Staff Association officer forwardedme an interesting article titled “Somebody I Look Up To:” Ethical Role Models in Organizations.5There is a powerful anecdote related at the beginning of the article which describes the kind ofaccountability I am talking about: “Several years ago Kathryn Reimann, senior vice president of global compliance at AmericanExpress Co., was faced with the challenge of bringing together two teams that had experiencedfriction among some team members in the past. Near the end of one meeting, the level ofantagonism among some participants became obvious and personal, and made othersuncomfortable. Kathryn interrupted the meeting and said: ‘You guys may have thought this was anacceptable meeting. I did not. I will not lead another meeting where I feel like I need to hide thescissors in the room. You guys go and do whatever you need to do to hammer out yourdifferences, or figure out how to keep them out of our meetings. If you can’t do that, you will notbe part of my team, because I will not accept people treating one another like this.’ Her invitationto do whatever was necessary to deal with past hard feelings, together with the assurance thatdisrespectful behavior would not be tolerated, proved to be very helpful in bringing this teamtogether as a productive and satisfying work group. In reflecting on this experience, Kathrynbelieves that she gained some of her confidence for acting with such boldness from having watched5 Gary R. Weaver, Linda Klebe Treviño, Bradley Agle (Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 313-330, 2005). 39
  39. 39. the actions of a highly respected senior executive she worked with very early in her career. Whenhe received and verified reports that another senior manager – a very strong performer in a verycompetitive environment – was not treating people well, he publicly fired him and let it be knownthat no amount of success provided an excuse for mistreating people.” [emphasis added] The contrast between this response and that experienced by the visitor mentioned at thebeginning of this section could not be clearer. And certainly it is this kind of response, and theethical role modeling it implies, that distinguishes accountable work groups and organizations frominstitutions where people suffer in silence and evil triumphs. The authors’ study is aimed atachieving an “understanding what it is about someone that makes that person an important,positive influence on the ethical behavior of another at work.” And in the end, while it may beunusual and difficult for us to be such individuals, it is probably not terribly complicated: “Ethical role models are ethical, caring and personable individuals who value relationshipsand treat people fairly.” Finally, it is encouraging to end this section of Commentary and Recommendations on anoptimistic note, namely, to acknowledge a sign of progress in 2009 regarding reform of the internaljustice system at PAHO. This topic, prominently mentioned in the Office’s initial report6 andreprinted in the second, was discussed by the ICMS in November 2009, when serious substantivediscussions about system reform got underway. As the composer John Cage said, “Begin anywhere.”  6 Work in Progress: Report of the Ombudsman (April 2006-March 2007), p. 21. 40
  40. 40.    10.  USER  EVALUATIONS  –  OFFICE  OF  THE  OMBUDSMAN   An Ombudsman’s office is in some ways unique but in others quite like any other office ororganization – we want to know how we’re doing, and hope to continually improve. Beginning in2008, the Office created and began distributing a User Evaluation to all visitors at the conclusion oftheir cases. The form is included as Appendix E. The Evaluation contains 23 questions, including two which invite written comments andsuggestions. This 4th Annual Report is the first to include data from those evaluations completedand returned to the Office between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2009, a total of 55. Graphicrepresentations of the responses appear below. 41
  41. 41. TABLE  1   USER  EVALUATION  OFFICE  OF  THE  OMBUSDMAN Strongly Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly N/A Question / Answer in Percentages Agree (%) (%) (%) Disagree (%) (%) (%)8. The role of the Ombudsman was clearly explained to me when 74.5 23.6 1.8 0.0 0.0 0.0we first met.9. I was able to have an appointment within a reasonable period 78.2 12.7 1.8 0.0 0.0 7.3of time.10. Meeting with the Ombudsman took place in a safe, private 74.5 18.2 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8and confidential setting.11. I trusted that our discussion were - and continue to be - 76.4 14.5 1.8 3.6 3.6 0.0confidential.12. The Ombudsman stayed in touch with me (in person, by 52.7 25.5 1.8 7.3 5.5 7.3phone or by e-mail) regarding matters discussed during ourmeeting(s).13. Sufficient time was provided to talk about my concerns. 72.7 23.6 1.8 1.8 0.0 0.014. Throughout the process, I was given the opportunity to 40.0 34.5 7.3 3.6 3.6 10.9participate in resolving the problem.15. I felt comfortable discussing my concerns with the 69.1 23.6 3.6 1.8 1.8 0.0Ombudsman.16. I felt that the Ombudsman was neutral throughout the 63.6 16.4 9.1 3.6 1.8 5.5process and did not take sides.17. The Ombudsman helped me identify and consider a range of 54.5 21.8 12.7 0.0 3.6 7.3options to address my concern.18. As a result of meeting with the Ombudsman, I felt that a 36.4 25.5 14.5 7.3 5.5 10.9positive outcome was achieved.19. As a result of my experience with the Office of the 32.7 27.3 21.8 3.6 1.8 12.7Ombudsman, I feel I developed skills or learned approaches orstrategies that might help me to address workplace problems inthe future.20. I would use the office again in the future if I had a work- 50.9 29.1 7.3 7.3 3.6 1.8related concern or problem.21. When necessary, I am comfortable communicating with the 47.3 34.5 7.3 3.6 3.6 3.6Ombudsman by e-mail or telephone. I think most of the statistics speak for themselves and require little commentary from theincumbent. One area that clearly could benefit from improvement is follow-up. Compared withother questions, the response to item 12 (“The Ombudsman stayed in touch with me [in person, byphone or by e-mail] regarding matters discussed during our meeting(s).”) was low, at 78% either“strongly agree” or “agree”. The Office may need to do a better job at the initial meeting withvisitors to create reasonable expectations that are mutually understood and agreed to. Doing somight in the future preclude the disappointment experienced by 7 respondents in 2008-2009. Of special interest to me as an Ombudsman are the confidential, qualitative suggestions andcomments elicited, especially items 23 and 24. Question 23: “What might you have done about your concern or issue if you had not visitedthe Office of the Ombudsman?” A sampling of responses: 42
  42. 42. Probablemente seguir trabajando con HRM.No hubiera resuelto mis inquietudes.Asociación del personalReunirme con el PWR.Talk with my boss.Worried, stressed, may have acted negatively and made matters worse.File harassment claim or abandon ship.Grievance Panel.Ask for a transfer.It festers.Nothing.Sue PAHO.Worry.El apoyo del Ombudsman o mediador es una necesidad, él es la persona en la cual uno puede conversarsiendo neutral y super confidencial. Yo no conversaría con nadie más.El mediador siempre me ha sugerido lo correcto, creo que es la mejor alternativa..Not sure he really helped me figure out what to do.Ninguna porque las demás instancias no me inspiran confianza.I do not know. Fortunately the Ombudsman is there!To write a letter to second level supervisor explaining my concerns (I did it in 2005) to talk to the directorexplaining my concerns.I would have not wasted my time with meeting with the Ombudsman because it has not only been my casethat he lacks action to help solve or mediate situations.To go to HR. 43
  43. 43. Question 24: “In the space below, please provide any additional comments, observations orsuggestions that may help to complete your assessment or to improve the functioning of the Officeof the Ombudsman.” Among the responses, in reverse order of receipt (the last comment wasreceived 23 September 2009; the first, 10 March 2008): Creo que la figura del mediador es crucial en una organización como PAHO, ya que brinda al personal laoportunidad de tratar temas delicados y complejos en un ambiente 100% confidencial. El mediador facilita el diálogoy mantiene la objetividad en situaciones extremadamente complicadas, así como aporta sabios consejos y diferentesposibles soluciones. Es necesario y muy importante que las recomendaciones que el Ombudsman realice a las PWR luego de susvisitas sean consideradas y evaluadas en la respectiva gestión de los PWR. Sería bueno tener visita del mediador al menos una vez al año para el buen funcionamiento de larepresentación y así mejorar el trabajo en equipo de toda la representación. Mi felicitación al trabajo del Dr. Meissner y sobre todo por sus recomendaciones de su informe del 07/2008. The Ombudsman responded positively to our invitation to participate in our staff retreat, and was an asset tothe event. He was consulted (e-mail) for an opinion on what [was] essentially an HRM issue and respondedempathetically. Entiendo que el mediador llevó la inquietud planteada a la instancia correspondiente, salvo que el problemasigue aunque hay mejoría. Estoy conforme con el trato del mediador y sobre todo porque se retroalimentó de lo tratadoal grupo que planteó el problema. Hay que dar seguimiento a ver si se avanza más. Felicitaciones es muy amableestar con usted. Considero que un mediador es muy necesario en toda organización y sus aportes son importantes para darlesolución a un conflicto. Debe visitar con mayor frecuencia a las representaciones y sus informes sean conocidos en elpaís que fue visitado. I sense that there is a bias to protect the organization and not the individual. The experience was very positive overall. I just wish that there had been some follow-up. Especially of theagreements that were made during the session. Yo creo que debe mantenerse separada e independiente de la Oficina de Etica. Maybe some more advice on how to deal with the kind of issues that we go to talk [about]. But overall, Ithink the Ombudsman is doing a very ethical and professional job. 44
  44. 44. I feel the Ombudsman is great, however our organization structure is such that little can be changed. Unfortunately I have to say, that after contacting the Ombudsman I was called by my area manager and myfirst level supervisor to answer about if it was true that I have presented a concern in your office. I think the report that was issued by that office a few months ago was extremely interesting. But I wonder ifupper management and managers in general paid attention to the outcome to change or adjust their behavior andmanagement style? I have no suggestions for improvements. My experience was extremely satisfactory, useful and productive.The existence of the Ombudsman’s office is a vital safety valve at PAHO. Siempre he recibido el apoyo que he necesitado por lo que no tengo inquietud alguna. It works very well, been very helpful. Wallace helped me to identify the issues and possible solutions to next steps to resolve the issue. I am verygrateful to him for his help and willingness to listen and offer advice. Desde que el mediador no puede estar físicamente en las oficinas de país, se hace difícil que pueda realizar sugestión como mediador a la distancia. Su presencia en los países una vez al año, al menor es muy importante Sincerely, I knew that he could not resolve my problem, that he would make some suggestions, that he would“study” my problem, but I think he did not go so deep as he should into it. In my case, I did not see any good resultat all, and if he pointed out the errors in my case to the director, she did not want to see it! Sad! The Ombudsman helped me in making my own decision regarding the issue affecting me. This made me feelin control and had a positive effect in the outcome. To change the Ombudsman that is currently working at PAHO. He is not neutral and he is a puppet ofHR. He really is not going to do anything to help, as it was my experience, his string ties with HR make him not bean ethical Ombudsman. When the evaluations are sent to visitors whose files have been closed, the envelope containsa note from the Office (which also appears in Appendix E). The most important description of theevaluation process explains that “the questions are designed to help us understand your experiencewith the Office and to help us determine how we can improve our services. As described in the2006-2007 Report of the PAHO Ombudsman, “if we [Ombudsmen] are to offer commentary and makerecommendations, we should invite the same for our own development and improvement.” 45
  45. 45. The many different comments, suggestions and opinions reprinted above can speak forthemselves. Some are flattering, others not. However, the Office takes this process of evaluationvery seriously, and appreciates the time and effort that respondents have taken to participate. 46
  46. 46. 11.  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS   This report, like its predecessors, owes a debt of thanks to many colleagues who playedsome part in the work of the Office of the Ombudsman in 2009. The organizational commitmentto the success of the Office has been substantial, beginning with the Office of the Director. DoctorRoses has consistently supported the needs of the Office and this was especially so during the year-long period in 2008-2009 when PAHO’s Office served concurrently as the Office of StaffOmbudsmen in Geneva. The Office of the Deputy Director and the PAHO/WHO StaffAssociation also reinforced the work of the Office. It would be impossible to overstate the professionalism, enthusiasm and warmth thatCatherine Michel-Baussay brought to her position as Assistant to the Office of Staff Ombudsmenin WHO. After many years elsewhere in the Organization, she adapted to a new and challengingposition during a year of unusual demands, and with an Ombudsman almost entirely in absentia (inWashington) during 2009. The Office was maintained and its diversely-located visitors were servedthrough a lively, continuous communication link, telephone and e-mail, and by Catherine’sdedication to the Office and Organization and her commitment to colleagues in need. Much of thework reported here only took place as a result of her graceful interventions and skillfulmanagement. Merci infiniment! Once again I thank Leo Alvarez-Espinal of HRM for his generous assistance with databaseissues that make possible the accurate reporting of statistical information and graphics. And it isonly fair to express my appreciation to the fifty-five visitors to the Office who, at some point in2008-2009, took the time candidly to complete and return the User Evaluations, and whoseopinions are contained for the first time in this Report. The Office is committed to honest self-evaluation and improvements based on constructive feedback from visitors. I gratefullyacknowledge the visual and cover design improvements for this Report created by the artfulcontributions of Vivian Zanatta in KMC. Finally, the work of Harbey Peña Sandoval has been indispensable. Harbey began hiscollaboration with the Office as a summer intern in 2010 and has since joined the Organization asAssistant to the Ombudsman. Well before his first day of employment, he graciously helped tocollect the data and present them in graphic form, in addition to many contributions to the layout,design, accuracy and completeness of this Report. The Office has grown and improvedimmeasurably as a result of the care and dedication he brings to his work. We are delighted to havehim as a colleague. 47
  47. 47.           APPENDICES     48
  48. 48.  A.   Office   of   the   Ombudsperson:     Appointment   and   Terms   of  Reference          Section 1 - Establishment of the Office of the Ombudsperson The Office of the Ombudsperson has been established by the Director to make available theservices of an impartial, neutral and independent official to address the employment relatedproblems of staff members. The Ombudsperson shall be guided by PAHO’s Staff Rules andRegulations and policies as well as by the principles of justice, fairness and ethics. The Office of the Ombudsperson shall have its own operating budget that will provide theOmbudsperson with the resources that are necessary to fulfill its mission in Headquarters, countryoffices and centers.Section 2 - Appointment of the Ombudsperson 2.1 The Ombudsperson shall be appointed by the Director, after considering therecommendation of the senior staff selection committee, which includes participation of the StaffAssociation. The post will be announced and a competitive selection process conducted inaccordance with PAHO’s recruitment policies and procedures. Due to the importance of thisfunction, the Organization shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the post is continuouslystaffed. 2.2. The Office of the Ombudsperson is functionally independent but reports to the DeputyDirector for administrative purposes. 2.3 The Ombudsperson shall serve for an initial two-year renewable period that will notexceed a total of five years. Upon appointment, the Ombudsperson will be subject to a one yearprobationary period after which his or her appointment may be confirmed by the Director afterconsultation with the Staff Association. Once the period of service has been completed, the selectedcandidate may not be re-employed by PAHO for a period of time corresponding to his or her priorservices as PAHO Ombudsperson. 2.4 The Director, in consultation with the Staff Association, may remove the Ombudspersonfrom office for cause and following due process. 2.5 In the event of temporary absences of the Ombudsperson or in the case where the postis vacant, the WHO Ombudsman shall assume temporarily the role of PAHO Ombudsperson. 49
  49. 49. Section 3 - Terms of reference of the Ombudsperson 3.1 Role and Purpose - The Ombudsperson is an independent and impartial official whoprovides confidential, informal conflict resolution services for PAHO personnel who experiencework-related issues, challenges and problems.The Ombudsperson also assists the Organization in achieving its goals by: a) Recommending preventive actions, reporting and analyzing issues and providing feedback to senior management and to the Staff Association regarding trends and general issues that affect the work environment. Early intervention by the Ombudsperson encourages optimal personnel practices and promotes organizational and operational efficiency. b) Encouraging dialogue and facilitating the exchange of information across the Organization to improve workplace climate and a healthy work environment. c) Encouraging persons who are experiencing work-related problems, when possible, to address them directly with the other party and with their direct supervisor. d) Providing PAHO personnel with the skills and tools to address issues and conflict in a constructive way, e) Minimizing risks and serving as an early warning system that identifies potential sources of conflict, and f) Providing a safety net when formal systems fail or are perceived as inadequate. 3.2 Authority and Scope of Intervention - The Ombudsperson has the authority to receivecomplaints, initiate inquiries and informally address problems raised by PAHO personnel located inheadquarters, country offices and centers. The Ombudsperson will be functionally independent of any organizational office or entityfor the purpose of exercising the duties of the post, but shall not have decision making powers.The Ombudsperson will function within the scope of the existing Staff Rules and Regulations,manual provisions and policies. The Ombudsperson may decline to consider direct intervention over individual problems orcases that can be remedied only by actions affecting staff at large or cases that have not beenbrought to his/her attention in a timely fashion.3.3 Access to Persons and to Information a) The Ombudsperson shall have direct access to the Director, as needed, for the performance of his or her functions. b) The Ombudsperson will also have unrestricted access to officials and all personnel. All persons who work for PAHO are expected to cooperate with the Ombudsperson. 50