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Frequently Asked Questions & Guidance for Communicating with the Integrity Committee (IC)

PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT ANY MEMBER OF THE IC DIRECTLY.  The sections below explain how to submit a complaint, document, response, question, comment, or other information to the IC.

As shown in the Generic Process Flowchart, the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (IG Act), contemplates that it may take up to 217 days from receipt of an allegation through completion of an investigation and final notifications. The actual process and timeframe varies depending on the complexity and nature of the complaint and the procedural stage at which it is resolved. The IC is required to notify Congress if the statutory timeframes are exceeded.

Complainant (Person Making the Allegation)

Does my complaint fall within the Integrity Committee's authority?

For the IC to act on a complaint, the allegations must both: (1) concern a person subject to the IC’s authority, and (2) describe misconduct as defined by the IC.

Who is subject to the IC’s authority?

We refer to these individuals collectively as “Covered Persons.”

Note 1: Individuals who are “acting” in the positions above are also subject to the IC’s authority.

Note 2: The IC may act on a complaint of wrongdoing against an individual who is no longer a Covered Person if the alleged wrongdoing occurred while the individual was a Covered Person.

Does my complaint describe misconduct as defined by the IC?

The IC takes action on allegations of wrongdoing that involve:

  • Abuse of authority in the exercise of official duties or while acting under color of office;
  • Substantial misconduct, such as: gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, or a substantial violation of law, rule, or regulation; or
  • Conduct that undermines the independence or integrity reasonably expected of a Covered Person.

If your allegation does not involve misconduct by a Covered Person, the IC cannot act on it; please consider submitting your allegation to the appropriate agency of jurisdiction.

Will my identity be protected?

You have the option to submit allegations anonymously.  However, the IC strongly encourages you to provide your identity and contact information. Doing so allows us to notify you of the status of your complaint, and enables us to ask you for additional information that may be needed for your complaint to be thoroughly reviewed in a timely manner.

The IC takes appropriate measures to protect the confidentiality of a person who makes an allegation of, or provides information regarding, wrongdoing concerning a Covered Person. The IC will not disclose the identity of such a person without his or her consent, unless the IC Chairperson determines such disclosure is unavoidable during the IC process or is required by law.

What information should I include in my complaint?

An effective complaint includes a clear, direct, and well-organized statement of specific factual allegations. Vague or conclusory statements are generally not helpful to the IC nor sufficient to warrant an investigation.

To enable the members of the IC to thoroughly consider your complaint, we recommend that it include all of the following elements:

  1. An introduction that contains all of the following information:
  • The full name and job title of the individual against whom you are making the complaint (e.g., John Doe, Inspector General of X Department; Jane Smith, Acting Deputy IG of Y Agency).
  • The name of the Federal agency or department involved and the location where the wrongdoing occurred.
  • If applicable, your job title and role in the Federal agency or department.
  • The date(s) or the range of dates on which the wrongdoing occurred.
  1. A brief summary of the wrongdoing alleged.

For example:

  • Acting Deputy Inspector General Jane Smith violated her independence when she removed from an audit report information that reflected poorly on the Agency Head. Jane Smith removed the information from the report because she had a pending application for appointment as the permanent IG and she believed removing the information would improve her chances of being selected by the Agency Head. This occurred repeatedly between March 1 and April 30, 2017, although auditors objected to the edits. Jane Smith was appointed IG on June 15, 2017.
  • Between February 1 and July 31, 2018, John Doe, Inspector General of X Department, ordered more than $20,000 of supplies and equipment that he has taken home for use in his spouse’s business. 
  1. A factual and chronological description of key events relevant to the wrongdoing that includes all of the following information.
  • State the specific actions taken by the Covered Person that were misconduct and your basis for believing that the actions occurred.
  • If available, provide any document in your possession that directly supports your factual allegations. See the section below for how to submit documents.
  • Provide the date(s) or the range of dates on which the wrongdoing occurred.
  • If applicable, provide the names and positions of other persons who have direct knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing.

The names of all other Federal agencies to whom you reported the allegations and the current status of those complaints, if available (e.g., Office of Inspector General, Office of Special Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Government Ethics, Merit Systems Protection Board, Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Investigation).

How do I submit my complaint and supporting documents?

DO NOT CONTACT ANY MEMBER OF THE IC DIRECTLY.

Please send your complaint and supporting documents to Integrity-Complaint@cigie.gov. Supporting documents include records of any kind that directly support your complaint.

  • If referencing a publicly available law, rule, policy or procedure, please provide the link to the public document, rather than submitting a copy.
  • Please limit email attachments to 50 MB. 
    Note: When using a document scanner, please use the option to scan as “text” versus “picture”.The “text” option will improve the quality of the scan and significantly reduce the size of the attachment.
  • While not preferred, the IC does accept complaints and supporting documents by mail, courier, and fax.  Please contact us by email to coordinate a fax transmission.

Mailing Address
Attn: Integrity Committee
CIGIE
1717 H St, NW
Suite 825
Washington, DC 20006

What correspondence and notifications should I expect from the IC?

The IC generally communicates by written correspondence, including email. As the complainant, you may receive some of the following communications from the IC:

  • Confirmation that your complaint was received.
  • A request for additional information needed by the IC to thoroughly review your complaint.
  • Notification that your complaint was referred to another agency for appropriate action.
  • Notification of the final disposition of your complaint.

If the IC determines to investigate one or more allegations in your complaint, you may be contacted directly by an IC investigator for an interview or to provide additional information.

Note: The IC does not provide a complainant any other information regarding the status of a pending complaint and does not publicly confirm or otherwise discuss any complaints received.  If you have not received a notification of referral or final disposition, your complaint is likely still under review.

Will the IC investigate my complaint?

Please see “What information should I include in my complaint?” for guidance on submitting an effective complaint.

The IC takes seriously the responsibility of the IG community to hold one another accountable for upholding high standards and considers carefully each allegation that it receives. Where relevant facts are in dispute and raise substantial questions of wrongdoing that meet the IC’s threshold standard, the IC undertakes an investigation, even when it is costly and burdensome to do so. See “Threshold standard” in the IC Policies and Procedures.

When a complaint is not investigated, the IC will still act, if appropriate, to ensure the complaint is addressed by referring it to another agency of jurisdiction or suggesting another avenue to resolve it.

Can the IC take disciplinary action against Covered Persons or provide a remedy to complainants who have been wronged?

The IC does not have the authority to take disciplinary action against an individual nor the authority to reinstate or otherwise provide redress to an adversely affected complainant. 

Responsibility and authority to act upon an IC recommendation belong to the appointing authority (e.g., the President or head of agency) for the Covered Person. The appointing authority may decide whether to take disciplinary action against a Covered Person and may consider the IC’s findings and conclusions in connection with deciding whether to take action in favor of a complainant.

The authority to assist a complainant belongs to their agency of employment or other agency of jurisdiction (e.g., Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Special Counsel, Merit System Protection Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration). It is the responsibility of a complainant who has been wronged to seek a remedy from their agency or other agency of jurisdiction.

Covered Person (Subject of the Allegation)

What should I do when contacted by the IC for a response to allegations of wrongdoing?

If you are the Subject of an allegation under review by the IC, then you may receive a written request, sent to your official email address, that you respond to specific allegations and answer the IC’s questions. That response is due within 20 calendar-days, absent an extension granted by the IC Chairperson for good cause shown.

This response is your opportunity to fully refute the allegations so that there is no need to investigate; you can attempt to show that no reasonable person, after reading the complaint and your response, would conclude that further factual development would demonstrate that you committed misconduct. 

It is in your best interest to provide a complete and thorough written narrative response to each allegation with supporting documentation. A general denial, without more, is ordinarily not a sufficient response. Insufficient responses are likely to result in requests for additional information or referral of the case for investigation.

The following guidelines are provided to inform your response preparation.

In general, a sufficient response:

  • thoroughly addresses and refutes each allegation in detail;
  • explains your personal role, knowledge, or participation in the underlying events;
  • includes a timeline of actions taken and explains the basis for each action, including any supporting statutory, regulatory, or policy provisions;
  • includes any direct documentary evidence available to you that supports your rebuttal, and
  • expresses your commitment to not seek out the source of the allegations nor take any retaliatory action if the source is identified.

Submitting a thorough response does not guarantee that the IC will reach a favorable determination; there are cases in which questions of fact may remain unresolved and require investigation. However, an effective submission may eliminate some of the allegations and narrow the issues in a manner that will substantially reduce the burden of any ultimate investigation.

What happens after I submit my response?

You will be notified that your response was received.  Upon thorough consideration of the complaint, the response, and other associated information, the IC will make a determination on the next appropriate step in the review process. Please see section 7 of the IC Policies and Procedures for additional information.

What should I avoid as the Subject of an allegation of wrongdoing made to the IC?

To avoid the perception of a conflict of interest or interference with the IC’s review, the Subject of an allegation should not:

  • attempt to identify or retaliate against complainants or other individuals that provide information to the IC, which includes contacting individuals to discuss the information they provided to the IC;
  • take any action that may be perceived as tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses;
  • attempt to deny or otherwise limit access to witnesses and documents identified by the IC as necessary to complete its review; or
  • communicate directly with any member of the IC regarding the allegations.

Please be advised that seeking assistance from fact-witnesses in your response to the IC, or during an IC investigation, may raise questions about the intent or effect of such contacts, which may complicate any investigation and lead to an expansion of allegations.

When possible, you should recuse yourself from any OIG decision-making concerning IC requests for witness interviews and document production. If applicable, please provide documentation of recusals, as well as copies of any associated delegations of authority to the IC.

Can I communicate with the IC through my personal attorney?

Yes. If you retain the services of a personal attorney, please provide the contact information to the IC as soon as practical after receiving a request for a response or a notification of investigation. Please be advised that attorneys working for the Federal government cannot provide representation of a Subject for purposes of an IC matter.

Will I have the opportunity to review the IC’s findings and conclusions prior to a final determination?

Yes. The IC provides an opportunity for Subjects to review and comment on the draft report of investigation, as well as the report's exhibits.  The draft report of investigation and exhibits will be redacted as appropriate to protect the privacy of third-party participants prior to review by the Subject. Please be advised that, absent approval by the IC Chairperson for good cause, review of the exhibits must take place at the CIGIE office in Washington, D.C., or the FBI Headquarters building for investigations involving classified information.

If you choose to submit comments for IC consideration, your comments will be provided to the IC investigators for incorporation, as appropriate, into the final report of investigation. The IC will consider your comments, along with the final report of investigation, prior to making its final determination.

Can the IC take disciplinary action against me for substantiated wrongdoing?

The IC does not have the authority to take disciplinary action against an individual. Responsibility and authority to act upon an IC recommendation belongs to the Covered Person’s appointing authority (e.g., the President or head of agency). A failure to cooperate, lack of candor, or interference with an investigation may result in additional findings of wrongdoing and may affect the IC’s recommendations.

How do I submit documents and information to the IC?

You may submit documents, requests, and comments as a reply to the email that transmitted the IC letter to you. If you prefer to correspond by mail, please notify the IC via email prior to mailing your package to the address below.

Mailing Address
Attn: Integrity Committee
CIGIE
1717 H St, NW
Suite 825
Washington, DC 20006

Assisting Office of Inspector General (Organization Conducting an IC Investigation)

Under what authority does the Assisting Office of Inspector General (OIG) act?

Pursuant to sections 11(b)(3)(B)(vi) and 11(d)(6)(B) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (IG Act), when so authorized by the IC Chairperson, CIGIE will engage an Assisting OIG to investigate the allegations referred by the IC to the IC Chairperson for investigation. In acting for the IC, the Assisting OIG may exercise the full statutory authority of an IG to investigate matters for the IC, including, but not limited to, compelling subject OIG document production, personnel interviews and, if necessary, issue subpoenas.

Who determines the scope of an IC investigation?

The IC Chairperson provides the Assisting OIG with the case documents and a written description regarding the nature of the allegations the IC referred for investigation. The letter is incorporated into a Memorandum of Understanding between CIGIE and the Assisting OIG.

What standards are used by an Assisting OIG to investigate?

The Assisting OIG conducts the IC’s investigation in accordance with the most current Quality Standards for Investigations issued by CIGIE. Prior to submission to the IC, the Deputy Inspector General or appropriate senior-level employee, as designated by the IG for the Assisting OIG, will personally review the final draft Report of Investigation (ROI) to ensure that it meets the required standards. The Assisting OIG may use its standard format for any documents produced in support of the investigation, including the ROI, unless otherwise directed by the IC Chairperson.

What happens if additional allegations of misconduct are received during an IC investigation?

The Assisting OIG will promptly notify the IC Chairperson. If the allegations involve potential criminal misconduct, the IC will consult with the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. If the allegations are non-criminal, the IC Chairperson, in consultation with the Assisting OIG, may expand the scope of the investigation.

How long do IC investigations take?

The Assisting OIG is expected to complete the investigation no later than 150 days after the date on which the IC referred the case to the IC Chairperson for investigation. In the event the Assisting OIG determines that additional time is needed to complete the investigation, the Assisting OIG will notify the IC Chairperson so that the IC Chairperson can notify the Congressional committees of jurisdiction of the delay. The IC is required to notify Congress if the 150-day statutory timeframe is exceeded.

Are IC investigations subject to peer review?

In the case of a peer review of the Assisting OIG conducted by another OIG pursuant to section 11(f)(7) of the IG Act, the Assisting OIG and the OIG conducting the peer review will determine whether the IC’s Report of Investigation (ROI) will be reviewed as part of the peer review. The Assisting OIG will notify the IC Chairperson if the IC’s ROI is to be included in the peer review sample.

Are IC investigations included in the Assisting OIG’s semiannual report to Congress (SAR)?

The IC will report any IC investigations in its annual report as required by the IG Act. If the assisting OIG reports on an IC investigation, then the narrative summary should state only that the OIG “conducted an investigation relating to another OIG in support of CIGIE’s Integrity Committee.” The Assisting OIG may not include any additional information regarding the investigation in the SAR without the IC Chairperson's consent.

An investigation conducted on behalf of the IC should be included in the statistics reported by the Assisting OIG in its SAR.

Who funds an IC investigation?

In general, CIGIE reimburses the Assisting OIG for the actual costs associated with the investigative support services, including hourly labor costs and other associated costs.

Integrity Committee Reports and Recommendations

How does the IC document its findings, conclusions, and recommendations?

Upon completion of an investigation, the Assisting OIG prepares a written report of investigation (ROI), which includes and findings and supporting documentation, and submits it to the IC. Upon consideration of the ROI and any submissions by the Subject, the IC will determine whether the facts within the ROI are proven by a preponderance of the evidence or if additional investigative work is needed. The IC will then determine whether the proven facts provide a reasonable basis to conclude the Subject engaged in wrongdoing.

The IC’s determination is set forth in writing. If the IC finds that misconduct occurred, it may provide an assessment of the relative seriousness of the misconduct and make recommendations regarding appropriate disciplinary action. Please see section 10(C) and 11 of the IC Policies and Procedures for additional information.

Who gets a copy of the IC’s report?

The IC transmits its report and recommendation, redacted as appropriate, to the President or head of agency, whichever is the appointing authority.  The IC also submits copies of its report to the Congressional committees of jurisdiction, the CIGIE Executive Chairperson, the CIGIE Chairperson, the Subject of the investigation, and to the affected IG, if the Subject is a subordinate of the IG.

What recommendations may the IC make?

IC recommendations are intended to inform the appointing authority’s assessment of the gravity of any substantiated misconduct and determination of disciplinary action. Depending on whether the allegations were substantiated by the investigation and the significance of the substantiated allegations, the IC’s recommendation may range from no disciplinary action to disciplinary action up to and including removal.

Who acts on IC recommendations?

The responsibility and authority to act on the IC’s recommendations belongs to the appointing authority for the Covered Person (e.g., the President or head of agency). Once final action is taken by the appointing authority, the CIGIE Executive Chairperson notifies the IC.

Can the IC take disciplinary action against Covered Persons or provide a remedy to complainants who have been wronged?

The IC does not have the authority to take disciplinary action against an individual nor the authority to reinstate or otherwise provide redress to an adversely affected complainant.

Responsibility and authority to act upon an IC recommendation belongs to the appointing authority (e.g., the President or head of agency) for the Covered Person. The appointing authority may decide whether to take disciplinary action against a Covered Person and may consider the IC’s findings and conclusions in connection with deciding whether to take action in favor of a complainant.

The authority to assist a complainant belongs to their agency of employment or other agency of jurisdiction (e.g., Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Special Counsel, Merit System Protection Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration). It is the responsibility of a complainant who has been wronged to seek a remedy from their agency or other agency of jurisdiction.