This article explores the ongoing condition of the ombudsman sector through models of change adopted from the social science literature. Debates about change are fleshed out through an analysis of the ombudsman/tribunal partnership initiative currently underway. As well as providing an explanation for the slow process of reform in the ombudsman sector, the article highlights the need for further research into the partnership initiative to detail the strengths, weaknesses and sustainability of such bottom-up reform agendas in the administrative justice system. [---]