How We Work

While the Refereeing Commission Ombudsman is not representative of the concept of “ombudsman” in the truest sense – that is independent of the organization in which it serves and unaligned with any parties within the organization (we are members of the cadre with a vested interest in referee issues, led by a member of the Refereeing Comission [RC]) — it was created to act in the that capacity for the fencing community. To that end, it pledges to work, inasmuch as it can, within the standards of practice of the International Ombudsman Association:

  • We will conduct business independently of the RC and USA Fencing.
  • We will remain neutral in all of our dealings with our constituents.
  • We will maintain confidentiality in our communications with our constituents.
  • We will serve as an informal intermediary between our constituents by: accepting and verifying complaints; gathering and distributing information of use to all parties; entertaining suggestions and developing a range of recommendations for policy changes or enhancements; and providing options and referrals to appropriate channels or processes for conflict resolution.

What We CANNOT Do

This group has no authority to act on behalf of the RC or USA Fencing, nor can it overturn any decisions or actions determined by those organizations. We cannot conduct formal, binding investigations, nor can we make binding policies for the RC or USA Fencing.

What We CAN Do

  • We can listen.
  • We can clarify rules, procedures, policies and decisions.
  • We can create access to information and resources.
  • We can act as an alternative method of communication between constituents.
  • We can make suggestions.
  • We can help ensure that rules, policies and procedures function equitably.
  • We can identify hot-button issues that require action on the part of the RC or USA Fencing.

The Complaint Process

Grounds for a Complaint

Constituents may file a complaint when they believe that they are impacted negatively by the actions of another within a tournament environment. This broad definition encourages participation in the ombudsman process in order to affect resolution and open communication.

Who Can File a Complaint

Constituents of USA Fencing, not limited to athletes, parents, coaches, referees, bout committee, armorers, board members and officers, may file a complaint through the group.

How to File a Complaint

Contact a regional representative or fill out the confidential contact form on this website.

What to Include in a Complaint

  • Name and contact information of the parties involved. The group will not accept anonymous complaints for consideration.
  • A brief description of the nature of the complaint. Please stick to the facts of the complaint.
  • A brief statement of the negative impact of the complaint.
  • Any supporting documentation or witnesses that may aid the group in resolving the complaint.

What Do We Do Next?

Upon receiving a complaint, we will:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 24 hours.
  2. Perform an informal, confidential follow up to ascertain and verify the facts of the complaint.
  3. Review the facts of the complaint as a group, and discuss potential resolutions including, but not limited to:
    a. Determining the validity of the complaint
    b. Developing potential resolutions to help all parties resolve the situation themselves
    c. Creating access to information to help resolve complaints
    d. Acting in the capacity as intermediary between parties to reach a resolution
    e. Referring the complaint to the RC or USA Fencing National Office for resolution
  4. Once we have reached a decision on how to proceed, a member will relay that decision to the parties involved in the complaint.
  5. We will then take the appropriate action, if necessary, based on the group’s decision.

Policy Change Suggestion Process

Grounds to Suggest Policy Changes

Constituents may suggest policy changes when they believe that they are impacted negatively by policies and procedures within a tournament environment. This broad definition encourages participation in the ombudsman process in order to affect resolution and open communication.

Who Can Suggest Policy Changes

Constituents of USA Fencing, not limited to athletes, parents, coaches, referees, bout committee, armorers, board members and officers, may suggest policy changes through the  group.

How to File a Suggestion for Policy Change

Contact a regional representative or fill out the confidential contact form on the RC Ombudsman website.

What to Include in the Suggestion

  • Name and contact information. We will not accept anonymous suggestions for consideration.
  • A brief description of the nature of the suggestion.
  • A brief statement of how the suggestion will improve current policy.
  • Any backup documentation, contact information or written testimony from others affected by the policy or other information that may aid in reviewing the suggestion.

What we do Next?

Upon receiving a suggestion for policy change, we will:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of the suggestion within 24 hours (likely much sooner than that).
  2. Perform an informal, confidential follow up to ascertain the validity of the need for policy change.
  3. Review the suggestion as a group, and discuss potential resolutions including, but not limited to:
    a. Determining the validity of the suggestion
    b. Developing potential resolutions to help all parties work within existing policy
    c. Creating access to information to help all parties to gain an understanding of existing policy
    d. Acting in the capacity as intermediary between parties to reach an understanding of existing policy or a suggestion for improvement
    e. Referring the suggestion to the RC or USA Fencing National Office with a recommendation to adopt
  4. Once we have reached a decision on how to proceed with the suggestion, a member will relay that decision to the parties involved.
  5. We will then take the appropriate action, if necessary, based on the group’s decision.
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