President of AOA’s Post: Innovations in Investigation Techniques

July 25, 2007 at 9:24 am 2 comments

I mulled over several topics for this, my first post on the AOA blog. Given that there are several issues and challenges we face in the conduct of our daily work, some of which I dwelled upon in my paper at the 10th AOA Conference in Hanoi in April this year, I had to consider several options; in the end, I selected “Innovations in investigation techniques” because this is an area where I feel not enough discussion takes place.  Since the work of the Ombudsman is governed by a legal framework, its core function of carrying out investigations on complaints is also guided by defined procedures. By and large, these procedures tend to be fairly detailed and can have several rigidities. Although I’m certain that every Ombudsman tries to remove these rigidities and make the investigation process as flexible as possible to ensure speedy redress of grievances, this is not always easily achieved. What is more, our procedures can also often limit choices of investigative techniques. I believe that while we have introduced innovations in some areas, such as in the use of Information Technology to improve our outreach, when it comes to investigation, we continue to work with old techniques and instruments. Is this because we are following the principle of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it’ or have we just found a comfort zone of following established procedures? As institutions delivering Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, we could benefit from innovations that have taken place in investigation techniques used by other ADR players such as Mediators and Conciliators. We know for example, that mediations are usually concluded in one day, yet this is not at the cost of gathering of facts and weighing of options for resolution of disputes. How can we incorporate the procedures followed by the Mediators, in our investigation techniques? In addition, we could also look at techniques used by the private sector Ombudsman, whose operations, one would imagine, are unbridled by detailed procedures defined under law. Of course, while integrating investigation techniques, procedures and instruments used by our more nimble counterparts, we have to consider the changes in work culture they will bring in tow, but innovate we must.


Entry filed under: ADR, AOA, Conciliation, Investigation Techniques, Mediation.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David McNabb  |  October 10, 2007 at 12:51 am

    Greetings from Dave McNabb, Chair ACR Ombudsman Section. Today I sent a message to informing AOA of our Annual Conference in Phoenix Arizona USA Oct 24-Oct 28 2007. At this conference I will be chairing a panel session with the topic “Ombudsman as an Agent of Integrity” . I present a summary of my paper “Adjudication Idols and Ombudsman Bridges: The Private Enterprise of Independence and Fairness” You can find a copy of my paper at
    under the heading ‘conferences’. The paper reviews my practice as an consumer financial services Ombudsman with a private sector banking group in Canada. Based on your July 25 2007 post above, I thought AOA might have an interest in the panel or the paper.

    Sincerely, Dave McNabb

  • 2. aoab  |  October 10, 2007 at 5:43 am

    Thanks David, for your contribution. The paper appears to be very interesting and I’m sure the AOA members can benefit from your insights.

    In fact, I would urge all visitors to this blog to post their views and comments on both the President of AOA’s post as well as David’s paper.

    Farrukh Moriani


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