The Office of the Ombudsman was established in April 1997 as a pilot program supported by five Institutes representing a cross-section of the NIH population, including the Office of the Director; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The goals of the pilot program were to:
Further scientific research through efficient, effective, and innovative conflict management and resolution methods.
Provide an alternative to traditional grievance and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint processes.
Improve the work environment, preserve workplace relationships and enhance the quality of work life by increasing participant satisfaction with dispute resolution outcomes.
Reduce the costs associated with and time committed to traditional dispute processing.
At the end of the pilot period in 1998, an evaluation team determined that the Office was effective in reducing disputes and offered a valued means to enhance conflict management at NIH. In response to a greater-than-expected demand for services, NIH expanded the staffing of the Office and extended its services to the entire NIH community at the beginning of 1999.