The OIG initiates an investigation when it receives a complaint of wrongdoing. Most allegations are made by FCA employees.
An OIG investigation is a planned, systematic process that involves
- determining the basis for a complaint;
- analyzing the issues involved; and
- obtaining relevant, objective evidence from individuals, documents, tangible objects, and data.
The OIG has adopted Quality Standards for Investigations issued by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency as guidance for its investigative activity.
OIG investigations focus on violations of law or misconduct by FCA employees and contractors, as well as allegations of irregularities or abuse in FCA programs and operations. The OIG has investigated violations alleging
- theft, conversion, misappropriation, embezzlement, or misuse of Government funds or property;
- false claims or statements;
- forgery, falsification, or unauthorized destruction of Government records;
- conflict of interest knowingly engaged in by an FCA employee;
- violation of standards of ethical conduct;
- prohibited personnel practices;
- violation of employee responsibilities and conduct; and
- mismanagement, fraud, waste of Government funds, or abuse of authority relating to FCA’s programs and operations.
The Investigative Process
The investigative process consists of the following steps:
- Preliminary Analysis. When the OIG receives a complaint of wrongdoing, it performs a preliminary analysis to determine if further action is warranted. The OIG considers
- indications, as well as the plausibility of allegations, that a violation of a statute or regulation under OIG jurisdiction has been committed;
- the effect of the alleged illegal or improper activity on FCA programs; and
- indications that the matter may significantly affect public health and safety.
- examining documents and
- interviewing individuals.
Most employees voluntarily consent to interviews and fully cooperate by supplying information and documents in their control. Employees who do not consent may be ordered by a supervisor to appear for an interview with an OIG investigator. Employees who disobey such an order are subject to disciplinary action.
Employees must be truthful when interviewed. False statements made in the course of an investigation could subject the employee to criminal and administrative penalties.
When appropriate, the OIG informs subjects of their legal rights, including the right to remain silent and to obtain legal counsel. An employee is entitled to a reasonable amount of time to arrange legal representation. The role of the legal or other representative is to provide counsel or advice, not to answer questions on behalf of the employee. Representatives are not permitted to question the OIG investigator or otherwise dominate or disrupt the interview or the investigation. Legal or other representation is at the expense of the employee.
However, when the investigation substantiates a wrongful act, the OIG prepares an investigative report, which describes the allegation, the evidence to support it, and aspects of an allegation that are not substantiated. Investigative reports rarely recommend specific disciplinary action against individuals.
If an issue identified in the investigative report is a recurring or systemic problem, the OIG uses a cover letter to identify this broader problem to managers and sometimes to suggest an appropriate response. FCA management is expected to report to the OIG the actions it has taken in response to the identified problems.
Investigative reports are sensitive documents, and the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act restrict their distribution. Distribution is limited to those with a “need to know” for official purposes.