The People's Defender: Strengthening the Office of the Ombud

Author: Gordon Evans
Publication Date: 2014

In developing countries, the national Ombudsman often assumes a broader mandate that deals not only with individual complaints of maladministration by public institutions, but with systemic human rights and democratization issues. This is certainly the case in Peru where the Defensoria del Pueblo (DDP) has long-played such a role and is viewed as the most credible public institution by the Peruvian people. This case study describes a successful, CIDA-funded project to introduce results-based management (RBM) in DDP. What is unique about the project is the decision by the Canadian team and Peru's Ombudsman to do this as part of a comprehensive change management process. Within a year, remarkable progress had been achieved, notwithstanding a leadership transition early in the project and initial resistance to the approach by DDP management and staff. The project demonstrates that RBM should not be viewed simply as a methodological tool, but rather as a vehicle for strengthening organizational effectiveness and accountability. Moreover, if RBM is to be meaningful, it must be embraced by senior management and embedded in all key processes at both strategic and operational levels. The payoff can be significant: for an ombudsman's office, a well-managed, effective organization will be better equipped to pursue its critical role in defending individuals, preserving human rights and strengthening democratic institutions.
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