Orange County Government, Florida

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Office of the Ombudsman

How does the
Ombudsman help?

The Ombudsman’s services to the public and to employees range from providing information and referrals, to assisting the citizens in resolving the complaint. The Ombudsman also refers the complaint to the appropriate investigatory office for review and resolution. How your complaint is handled depends on the circumstances.

Why should citizens or employees use the Ombudsman complaint form?

Information provided on the complaint form will assist the Ombudsman in obtaining the basic information necessary to review your complaint. In addition to contact information, it asks what your specific problems and concerns are, which staff knew about your concerns, and whether the Ombudsman has permission to use your name.

Will the Ombudsman advocate for me?

The Ombudsman does not take sides. This office does not advocate for citizens or employees against a department or division and it does not advocate for the department or division against the citizen or employee. Rather, it bases any actions and recommendations taken on law, policy and the facts of the case. The Ombudsman expects all parties involved in the investigation to perform their duties in accordance with state and local law and written policy.

Can the Ombudsman provide legal advice?

No. The Office of the Ombudsman may be able to help you understand Orange County code and policy and the obligations the County must operate under the County Charter. If you believe your rights have been violated, you may need to consult with an attorney. You can contact the Florida Bar Association’s lawyer referral service, which can provide you with the names of licensed attorneys at no charge.

Can you keep my identity confidential?

There may be instances, in order to fully investigate your complaint or allegations, where your name may need to be used. We will ask permission to disclose your name, because in many cases we cannot both protect your identity and afford your complaint the due diligence it deserves. On your initial complaint form, there is an area asking you to check “yes” or “no” if we can disclose your name. In cases of Whistleblower complaints, your information will remain confidential in accordance with the laws governing those complaints.

Should I bother with filing appeals and grievances?

Yes. For employees, typical protocols and procedures must be followed through the appropriate channels before bringing any complaints related to employment issues to the Ombudsman. Generally, the Ombudsman does not review complaints until the department or division has had the opportunity to address the problem and all standard procedures afforded to employees have been exhausted. Anyone can make a mistake and management deserves an opportunity to correct mistakes brought to their attention. Often, the fastest way to resolve a problem is for you to discuss the matter with your division HR representative or to request reconsideration using the established appeal or grievance procedure. If you do not feel comfortable seeking resolution through your division HR representative, you may seek assistance from the Ombudsman to arrange for a confidential meeting with someone from Central HR. The purpose of following procedure is to make sure a decision was correct and fair. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can ask the Ombudsman to review the determination for a possible referral to the department director, HR management and/or the Office of Professional Standards. Most appeal and grievance procedures have deadlines you must meet to receive consideration. Contacting the Ombudsman does not change these deadlines. If you fail to appeal or grieve a decision, we probably will not investigate your complaint.

What kind of documentation should I provide to the Ombudsman?

Please provide photocopies of any and all correspondence, including letters, receipts, statements, emails, etc. This documentation of your interactions with management and/or human resources will help us to figure out more quickly how we may be able to help you.

Does the Ombudsman review and investigate complaints against elected officials?

No. Any complaints or allegations of violations of the County’s Local Code of Ethics (Article XIII, Chapter 2, Orange County Code of Ordinances) against an elected official should be filed with the Office of Agenda Development; the Office of Agenda Development will forward the complaint to the County’s Office of Professional Standards who will assign the complaint to an outside Investigative Officer to conduct the initial investigation of the complaint. The local complaint form can be obtained from the Office of Agenda Development, County Attorney’s office, or Ombudsman. Any complaints or allegations of violations of the State Code of Ethics (Part III, Chapter 112, Florida Statutes) against an elected official would need to be directed to the Florida Commission on Ethics in Tallahassee. A complaint form must be completed and filed with the Commission prior to the Commission launching an investigation. The Ombudsman can provide you with a form or you can download the form from the State of Florida’s website.

Does the Ombudsman receive ethics
complaints about unethical actions or behavior by an Orange County employee?

Yes. Any complaints or allegations of employee violations of the County’s Local Code of Ethics (Article XIII, Chapter 2, Orange County Code of Ordinances) should be filed with the Office of Agenda Development. The Office of Agenda Development will forward the complaint to the Office of Professional Standards who will conduct forward the complaint to the Ombudsman or to an outside Investigative Officer to conduct the initial investigation of the complaint. The local complaint form can be obtained from the Office of Agenda Development, County Attorney’s office, or Ombudsman.

You may access Municode.com to review the County’s Local Code of Ethics. For further information on the County’s local investigation process for alleged violations of the County’s Local Code of Ethics, please see County Administrative Regulation 2.22.

Contact Us

Orange County Office of the Ombudsman
201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801

Email: ombudsman@ocfl.net
Phone: (407) 836-7370

All e-mail sent to this address becomes part of Orange County public record. Comments received by our e-mail subsystem can be read by anyone who requests that privilege. In compliance with "Government in the Sunshine" laws, Orange County Government must make available, at request, any and all information not deemed a threat to the security of law enforcement agencies and personnel.