ARTICLE V: OMBUDSMAN

Section 1. OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN

1. There shall be an Office of Ombudsman, to be managed by an Ombudsman and to include such staff support as the Board Determines is appropriate and feasible. The Ombudsman shall be a full-time position, with salary and benefits appropriate to the function, as determined by the Board.

2. The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Board for an initial term of two years, subject to renewal by the Board.

3. The Ombudsman shall be subject to dismissal by the Board only upon a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the entire Board.

4. The annual budget for the Office of Ombudsman shall be established by the Board as part of the annual PICA budget process. The Ombudsman shall submit a proposed budget to the President, and the President shall include that budget submission in its entirety and without change in general PICA budget recommended by the PICA President to the Board. Nothing in this Article shall prevent the President from offering separate views on the substance, size, or other features of the Ombudsman's proposed budget to the Board. 

Section 2. CHARTER

The charter of the Ombudsman shall be to act as a neutral dispute resolution practitioner for those matters for which the provisions of the Reconsideration Policy set forth in Section 2 of Article IV or the Independent Review Policy set forth in Section 3 of Article IV have not been invoked. The principal function of the Ombudsman shall be to provide an independent internal evaluation of complaints by members of the PICA community who believe that the PICA staff, Board or a PICA constituent body has treated them unfairly. The Ombudsman shall serve as an objective advocate for fairness, and shall seek to evaluate and where possible resolve complaints about unfair or inappropriate treatment by PICA staff, the Board, or PICA constituent bodies, clarifying the issues and using conflict resolution tools such as negotiation, facilitation, and "shuttle diplomacy" to achieve these results.

Section 3. OPERATIONS

The Office of Ombudsman shall:

1. Facilitate the fair, impartial, and timely resolution of problems and complaints that affected members of the PICA community (excluding employees and vendors/suppliers of PICA) may have with specific actions or failures to act by the Board or PICA staff which have not otherwise become the subject of either the Reconsideration or Independent Review Policies;  

2. Exercise discretion to accept or decline to act on a complaint or question, including by the development of procedures to dispose of complaints that are insufficiently concrete, substantive, or related to PICA's interactions with the community so as to be inappropriate subject matters for the Ombudsman to act on. In addition, and without limiting the foregoing, the Ombudsman shall have no authority to act in any way with respect to internal administrative matters, personnel matters, issues relating to membership on the Board, or issues related to vendor/supplier relations;

3. Have the right to have access to (but not to publish if otherwise confidential) all necessary information and records from PICA staff and constituent bodies to enable an informed evaluation of the complaint and to assist in dispute resolution where feasible (subject only to such confidentiality obligations as are imposed by the complainant or any generally applicable confidentiality policies adopted by PICA);

4. Heighten awareness of the Ombudsman program and functions through routine interaction with the PICA community and online availability;

5. Maintain neutrality and independence, and have no bias or personal stake in an outcome; and

6. Comply with all PICA conflicts-of-interest and confidentially policies.

Section 4. INTERACTION WITH PICA AND OUTSIDE ENTITIES

1. No Pica employee, Board member, or other participant in Supporting Organizations or Advisory Committees shall prevent or impede the Ombudsman's contact with the PICA community (including employees of PICA). PICA employees and Board members shall direct members of the PICA community who voice problems, concerns, or complaints about PICA to the Ombudsman, who shall advise complainants about the various options available for review of such problems, concerns, or complaints.

2. PICA staff and other PICA participants shall observe and respect determinations made by the Office of Ombudsman concerning confidentiality of any complaints received by that Office.

3. Contact with the Ombudsman shall not constitute notice to PICA of any particular action or cause of action.

4. The Ombudsman shall be specifically authorized to make such reports to the Board as he or she deems appropriate with respect to any particular matter and its resolution or the inability to resolve it. Absent a determination by the Ombudsman, in his or her sole discretion, that it would be inappropriate, such reports shall be posted on the Website.

5. The Ombudsman shall not take any actions not authorized in these Bylaws, and in particular shall not institute, join, or support in any way any legal actions challenging PICA structure, procedures, processes, or any conduct by the PICA Board, staff, or constituent bodies.

Section 5. ANNUAL REPORT

The Office of Ombudsman shall publish on an annual basis a consolidated analysis of the year's complaints and resolutions, appropriately dealing with confidentiality obligations and concerns. Such annual report should include a description of any trends or common elements of complaints received during the period in question, as well as recommendations for steps that could be taken ti minimize future complaints. The annual report shall be posted on the Website.