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About the Office of the Public Advocate

The Public Advocate is an independently elected citywide official, next in line to the Mayor, who acts as your ombudsperson to cut through government red tape. Betsy Gotbaum served two terms as the City’s second Public Advocate from 2001 to 2009.

The Public Advocate answers complaints about people's problems with city government, investigates ineffective agencies and programs, proposes solutions that make government more efficient, and helps communities gain better access to government.

The Public Advocate is responsible for reporting the failure of any City agency or official to comply with the New York City Charter. The office also monitors the effectiveness of the City's public information and education efforts about citywide initiatives.

The Public Advocate also presides at meetings of the City Council and is a member of all Council committees, and has the power to introduce legislation.
The Public Advocate is a Trustee of New York City’s largest retirement system, with over $40 billion in assets. The Public Advocate is also member of the board of trustees of the City's Audit Committee, and an ex-officio member of the boards of the Museum of the City of New York and the Queens Borough Public Library. The Public Advocate appoints one member to the City Planning Commission, the Citywide Council on Special Education and serves on the committee to select the director of the Independent Budget Office.