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Good Government Better


What to do before contacting the Ombudsman

A difference of opinion or misunderstanding is often resolved by simply taking the time to talk and listen. If you have a problem with a state or local government agency, first discuss the problem with the agency involved before contacting our office. Many times agency officials are eager to explain what they did and why they did it, or will correct the problem to your satisfaction.

Here are some good common sense steps to take in trying to resolve any "consumer" problem, whether it involves a government agency or a company in the private sector:

Be prepared. Know what questions you are going to ask (it helps to write them down.) Be sure to have any relevant information you need available before you contact the agency.

Be pleasant. Treat public employees as you like to be treated. Getting angry or rude will not resolve your problem and may only confuse the real issues.

Keep records. Take notes, ask for the names and titles of employees you speak with, and save all of your correspondence.

Ask questions. Ask why the agency acted as it did. Ask employees to identify the rules, policies or laws that governed their actions. Ask for copies.

Talk to the right people. Don't get angry with the first employee you meet; usually, he or she cannot make or change policy. If you cannot resolve the matter, ask to talk with a supervisor. Keep asking questions until you understand what happened and why.

Read what is sent to you (including the fine print!) Carefully read all information sent to you. Many agency decisions may be appealed, but there are deadlines. Be sure to follow appeal rules and deadlines. It's a good idea to mail your appeal certified, return receipt.

Filing A Complaint

If you follow the above suggestions and still cannot resolve the problem, you can contact us for assistance. You can contact us by letter, telephone, TTY, fax, or email.

You can submit an online complaint or print a complaint form and send it to the Office of Ombudsman.

Mailing address:
Office of Ombudsman
Ola Babcock Miller Building
1112 East Grand
Des Moines, Iowa 50319