LZ Ombudspersons Guide

This document summarizes reach and responsibilities of the LZ Ombudspersons. Further information about the Ombudspersons reach and responsibility can be obtained from the International Ombuds Association.

The LZ Ombudspersons provide confidential, informal, independent, and impartial assistance for any LZ collaborators on matters pertaining to collaboration values, including dispute resolution services. The LZ Ombudspersons are available to LZ collaborators who are experiencing conflicts or disputes as part of their LZ activities rather than with problems internal to an academic institution, which can usually be mediated by the appropriate offices in that institution (including the institutional ombudsperson). The LZ Ombudspersons will work together with the members who consult them to identify options for managing and resolving disputes and conflicts. This includes providing advice and support, finding out information about, or referring individuals to, appropriate resources, and facilitating mediation.

An LZ Ombudsperson may report systemic issues or patterns of concern in the collaboration to the LZ Equity & Inclusion committee (EIC) and the Spokesperson, but may do so only without disclosing individual names or other aspects that would identify parties. Confidentiality is a privilege of the LZ Ombudspersons. The only circumstances that there may be an exception to confidentiality is if the Ombudsperson is concerned by an imminent risk of serious harm, or if required by law in the applicable jurisdiction to anonymously report credible evidence of fraud, waste, or abuse concerning the use of government funds. Please note there is no recognized privilege for ombudspersons in U.S. courts, that is, along the lines of attorney-client, spousal, etc..

To avoid mandatory reporting requirements of an ombudsperson to their home institution (where their confidential role may not be recognized), LZ shall have two Ombudspersons from two different LZ institutions; LZ scientists can contact whichever Ombudsperson they feel is appropriate. The LZ Ombudspersons should not have any other collaboration leadership role that may compromise their impartiality or confidentiality.

The Ombudspersons are required to become familiar with the Title IX rules of their institution (ideally by meeting with their institution’s Title IX or Diversity officer), with other code of conduct policies at their institution, and with the organizational structure of the LZ collaboration. This will allow them to provide current information about services, programs, policies, and procedures. By having two LZ Ombudspersons, it is expected collaboration members will have access to an ombudsperson not at their home institution, providing them with a confidential resource outside of their research group. Additionally, for matters arising within an institution, LZ members are encouraged to seek out the ombudsperson or other resources at their home institution.

If neither one of the Ombudspersons is able to attend an in-person collaboration meeting, the Ombudspersons and the EIC will appoint 2 “meeting allies” for the event. These persons will temporarily act as Ombudspersons for the duration of the event.

To prevent recurring events and maintain institutional memory given the 2 year term of the Ombudspersons, they are expected to keep a log. Each ombudsperson may share the identity of the complainant with other ombudspersons (current and future) only with explicit permission of the complainant. The EIC will explore the use of other ombuds tools, such as Callisto, but will employ such only after appropriate consultation with the IB and with full knowledge by the collaboration.

This document borrows from the DES, DESI and Fermi LAT policies.