New Resident Ombudsman, Expanded Public Engagement

Published on April 21, 2016

  • County Manager creates new Ombudsman role
  • Building capacity, expertise for public engagement
  • New Engage Arlington web portal

Arlingtonians now have full-time help navigating County government.

Robert Sharpe, a former Department of Human Services assistant director, is the County's new Resident Ombudsman, troubleshooting issues on behalf of his fellow Arlington residents while working directly with departments, County leadership and the County Board. His formal title also includes Director of Constituent Services.

The new Ombudsman role is the result of County Manager Mark Schwartz expanding his Office of Communications to include Public Engagement. Engage Arlington

Resident Ombudsman

"We are working hard to better serve our community," Schwartz said. "And if you run into roadblocks, our Ombudsman is here to look out for your interests."

Before contacting Sharpe, be sure to try two of the County's most popular — and useful — online resources:

Sharpe's role builds on the success of the County's Business Ombudsman post, created in 2014. Assistant County Manager Shannon Flanagan-Watson works in partnership with Arlington's business community to resolve issues and improve County administrative processes.

In stressing greater public outreach, the Manager's communications unit is now formally the Office of Communications and Public Engagement, under Assistant County Manager Diana Sun.

More ways to get involved

Schwartz also named Jennifer K. Smith as Director of Public Engagement. She is working with a cross-departmental team of County staff to improve and promote engagement, building on current organizational expertise.

One early result: the County's new Engage Arlington website, which allows residents to provide input on current projects, sign up for notifications, get public meeting information and find ways to become even more involved.

"Public engagement is central to our community-building here in Arlington," Schwartz said. "We are putting in place the structures and tools our staff and community need to ensure that we do an even better job of reaching out to constituents across a range of topics."