Erica Katherine, associate ombudsman, Office of the Associate Commissioner, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Food and Drug Administration
As an ombudsman within the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), I support the great work we do in ORA to protect public health. I serve as a neutral or impartial dispute and conflict resolution professional. My major task is to respond to disputes, complaints, concerns, and suggestions for improvement that I receive from both internal and external stakeholders of ORA.
As I receive and process this information, I can comment on and suggest improvements to ORA's administrative performance as well as to ORA’s implementation of processes, policies and procedures. I help affect change in policies and/or procedures that are problematic or inefficient for consumers, industry, and employees.
I am an advocate for fair and neutral processes within ORA that assist in achieving the vision and mission of the organization. Oftentimes this involves identifying communication barriers, providing problem-solving services, and using other ombudsman’s tools to resolve conflict, like promoting diplomacy, facilitating discussions, and coaching. Using a sports analogy, my job is like instant replay. Instant replay is incorporated in several sports to help ensure the rules are administered properly and only deployed when an action is disputed. I do not make the calls on the field but I illuminate the process in a way that helps promote procedural and policy fairness, both in principle and in practice. When internal or external stakeholders contact me, it is usually because they have tried to navigate a process or system without success. As a neutral mediator for a stakeholder, I provide information and resources, make recommendations relating to the implementation of a process or procedure, and facilitate the informal resolution of disputes or conflicts.
As ombudsman, I champion “good governance” practices that enhance the quality of work and communication. Characteristics of “good government” were first expressed by one of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. He stated, "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government." I work to achieve this within ORA by being transparent, responsive, and inclusive, as well as ensuring accountability in the work ORA performs for the American public.
I am Erica Katherine, and #IAmORA.