IMF Ombudsperson's Terms of Reference

December 2007


The position of Ombudsperson has been established to make available the services of an impartial and independent person to address the employment-related problems of individuals. The principal aim is to provide assistance in resolving these problems in a manner that contributes to an improvement in the overall working environment in the Fund, thus promoting better personnel management and greater organizational and operational efficiency.


1. The Ombudsperson will not have had a prior employment relationship with the Fund and will be appointed by the Managing Director, after consultation with representatives of the Staff Association Committee. He or she will initially be appointed on a contractual basis for two years. Prior to the end of that year, after consultation with the Staff Association Committee, the Managing Director will decide whether to extend the incumbent's contractual appointment for a period of three years. The Ombudsperson will not be reappointed, and his/her total term of office will not exceed five years, except that his/her contract may be briefly extended to allow for a transition and smooth handover to a successor. The Ombudsperson may select working hours consistent with the execution of the duties of the office.

Authority of the Ombudsperson

2. In exercising his or her duties, the Ombudsperson will be independent of any official, department, office, bureau, or other organizational entity of the Fund.

3. The Ombudsperson shall have the right, on any matter pertaining to the exercise of his or her duties, to direct access to any staff member or contractual employee and to the Managing Director and the Deputy Managing Directors. All staff members, contractual employees, and vendor personnel who work at the Fund are expected to cooperate with the Ombudsperson and to make available all information pertinent to matters he or she is reviewing.

4. The Ombudsperson shall have access to all records relevant to the exercise of his or her duties. In the event of a dispute regarding access to records, the matter will be referred to the Managing Director.

Duties of the Ombudsperson

5. The Ombudsperson shall review those problems of an employment-related nature that are brought to his or her attention by any persons who have access to his or her services as provided in paragraph 8 below. The Ombudsperson's review of a problem and contacts with persons who are involved may take place at any stage in the process through which that problem is being addressed. With the primary objective of resolving these problems, the Ombudsperson will exercise judgment in seeking to facilitate the resolution of conflicts, using mediation and conciliation or other appropriate means. For a problem that cannot be resolved, the Ombudsperson and the visitor may mutually agree for the Ombudsperson to present recommendations for the resolution of the problem to those with authority to implement those recommendations. The Ombudsperson does not investigate allegations of misconduct.

6. The Ombudsperson shall issue an annual report, specifying the number and general nature of all the problems brought to his or her attention and describing in general terms the extent to which the problems were or were not resolved, together with the reasons for the lack of resolution. If, in the view of the Ombudsperson, certain cases have revealed broad issues of personnel management or administration, the report may discuss the issues involved. The annual report shall be circulated to the Executive Board and to all staff members and contractual employees.

7. The Ombudsperson shall have the right to issue reports on the outcome of particular cases that he or she considers are of general importance and interest and shall bring to the attention of the Managing Director any systemic issues, either Fundwide or specific to particular departments, that become apparent from individual cases.

Access to the Ombudsperson

8. Current and former staff members and contractual employees shall have access to the services of the Ombudsperson. The services of the Ombudsperson are not available to Executive Directors, Alternate Executive Directors, or to Advisors or Assistants to Executive Directors who are not staff members and are appointed by and serve at the discretion of Executive Directors.

9. Persons having access to the Ombudsperson are not required to have pursued other avenues for the resolution of their problems, such as contacting supervisors, before bringing a matter to the attention of the Ombudsperson.

10. If a person who has raised a matter with the Ombudsperson decides to initiate a formal grievance under GAO No. 31, or to make an application to the Administrative Tribunal, the Ombudsperson may provide advice on the procedures prior to the filing of the grievance or the making of the application. However, the Ombudsperson shall thereafter refrain from assisting the grievant in the grievance process or in furthering an application to the Tribunal, except to the extent that, in the Ombudsperson's judgment, he or she may be able to assist in mediating the settlement of a case. The Ombudsperson may not be called as a witness or otherwise be required to provide information in such proceedings, or in any other administrative or judicial proceedings inside or outside the Fund.


11. The Ombudsperson will keep all dealings with persons who seek his or her services strictly confidential, except to the extent that the person seeking assistance consents to disclosure for the purpose of the performance of the duties specified in paragraph #5. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm, and where there is no other reasonable option.  Whether this risk exists is a determination to be made by the Ombudsperson.

12. All information and records compiled by the Ombudsperson shall be for the use of the Ombudsperson and for no other purpose than the functions of the office of the Ombudsperson. Any reports of the Ombudsperson shall be prepared in a manner that will preserve the right to confidentiality of the persons who have brought matters to the attention of, or provided information to, the Ombudsperson. Details of specific cases may be disclosed only with the concurrence of such persons.