Office Protocols

As noted in the Harvard University Ombudsman Office Charter, the Ombudsman Office practices in accordance with the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.  The principles of confidentiality, impartiality, independence, and informality are essential to the mission and function of the Office. These office protocols are intended to help ensure that all activities and tasks conform to those principles.

1. The Office is a purely voluntary resource. No one is required to use it, but those who do will be understood to have agreed to respect and abide by the principles on which it was created and not to call the Ombudsman to testify with respect to confidential communications in formal or legal proceedings.

2. When taking messages or making appointment with visitors, the Administrative Coordinator will ask if the caller wishes to leave a first name and/or phone number at which he or she may be reached privately.  Callers are not required to leave either.

3. Any notes that may be created by the University Ombuds are temporary. They are personal working notes used for the sole purpose of helping to clarify visitor concerns and are not preserved for any reason.  These notes are shredded routinely and promptly.

4. Any written phone messages are shredded promptly.

5. Communication with the Office is considered confidential and off-the-record.  Thus, the office does not retain case records.

6. All visitor appointments in the electronic calendars for the University Ombudsman will be deleted within 4 days of the visit.  

7. Statistical data retained for the office’s annual report is destroyed within several months of the report’s completion.

8. Consistent with the preamble of this document, the University Ombudsman and the Administrative Coordinator will take other steps as appropriate and necessary to ensure the confidentiality of the office operation.