Personal Service Contracts Ombudsman

Prior to establishing the Office of the Ombudsman, there was no informal channel for implementing partners – contractors and grantees – to report complaints or resolve questions arising during any stage of the Acquisition & Assistance process.  As a result, the available recourse to implementing partners when there was a conflict, concern, difference or problematic issue was litigation in the federal courts which proved to be costly, time consuming, a drain on Agency resources and damaging to the Agency’s reputation.   By establishing the office of the A&A/PSC Ombudsman, USAID created a process for contractors, employees and other parties participating in the Acquisition and Assistance process to speak up about potentially serious issues in a safe environment.

Role of the PSC Ombudsman

M/OAA recognized the need to the address concerns of personal services contractors (PSCs) and the PSC Ombudsman came into existence via Agency Notice issued September 8, 2016. Like the A&A Ombudsman, all inquiries are submitted via a confidential database. The principal purpose of the database is to respond to inquiries from PSCs who have specific questions related to their contracts. The PSC Ombudsman provides PSCs  a venue to make inquiries about their contracts and resolve issues related their contracts in an informal manner. The mailbox is not intended to take the place of the cognizant Contracting Officer (CO) who should be the initial point of contact for inquiries and the CO must be included in any communications.


Standards of Practice of the PSC Ombudsman

The PSC Ombudsman operates in a manner that preserves the confidentiality of those seeking its services.  The Office maintains a neutral and impartial position with respect to the concerns raised.   It operates based on three main tenets:

a. Informality

The Ombudsman offers an informal channel of communication.  Its function is to listen and help analyze options for resolution while remaining neutral and facilitating an informal resolution process. The Ombudsman does not:

  • Direct or compel Agency or CO action
  • Perform formal investigations
  • Receive formal notice for the Agency
  • Make binding decisions, determine rights or mandate policies for the Agency
  • Substitute for USAID’s formal processes
  • Toll any time limitation for filing a protest, dispute or appeal with the federal courts or Board of Contract Appeals

The Ombudsman may: 

Develop, evaluate, and discuss available options

  • Facilitate, negotiate, and mediate
  • Conduct inquiries
  • Perform informal investigations
  • Report findings while preserving confidentiality
  • Make recommendations
  • Identify complaint patterns and trends
  • Educate

b. Neutrality or Impartiality

The Ombudsman has no personal interest or stake in the outcome of any dispute.  The Office attempts to promote fair processes for all and does not advocate for either side.  The Ombudsman does not attempt to second guess the decision making of the CO/AO, however the Ombudsman wants to determine wither the decision was made in good faith, with proper information, in the absence of conflicts of interest and not unreasonable or irrational.

c.   Independence

The PSC Ombudsman reports directly to the Director of M/OAA and it operates independently of any other office or division within M/OAA.


When Your Assistance is Requested Expect the PSC Ombudsman to:
  • Provide you with an impartial explanation of the matter under consideration
  • Explore with you the facts of the situation to clarify the issues
  • Offer a contextual explanation of relevant A&A regulations and policy or best practices, when appropriate
  • Complete an impartial review of the matter
  • Assist in achieving outcomes consistent with fairness and respectful treatment
  • Elevate matters to appropriate levels, when necessary
What should you do?
  • Remember the PSC Ombudsman is asking for your assistance
  • Prepare for discussions
    • Gather pertinent facts/information
    • Describe the situation a concise manner
    • Identify expectations and/or desired outcome, if any
    • Provide relevant documentation, points of contact or other pertinent references that supports the agency position on the matter.
  • Be willing to explore solutions
  • Go to Ombudsman FAQs
If you or someone you know needs assistance with a specific USAID financed A&A proceeding or crosscutting A&A issue you/they should read the information on the Ombudsman's external webpage