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The Federal Inspectors General
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Inspector General's (IG) mission?

How are IGs appointed and removed?

Are IGs independent?

Who oversees the IGs?

How are the results of an IG's work communicated?

How does an IG contribute to good government?

How can I contact an IG?


What is the Inspector General's (IG) mission?

Per the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, the Inspector General's mission is to:

  • Conduct independent and objective audits, investigations and inspections
  • Prevent and detect waste, fraud and abuse,
  • Promote economy, effectiveness and efficiency,
  • Review pending legislation and regulation, and
  • Keep the agency head and Congress fully and currently informed.

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How are IGs appointed and removed?

  • IGs are appointed without regard to their political affiliation.
  • The appointment is based on integrity and ability in:
    • accounting, auditing, financial analysis;
    • law, management analysis, public administration; or
    • investigations.
  • The President nominates IGs at Cabinet-level departments and major agencies with Senate confirmation. These IGs can only be removed by the President. The agency heads appoint and can remove IGs at designated Federal entities. Both houses of Congress must be notified if an IG is removed by the President or an agency head.

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Are IGs independent?

Yes, IGs are independent. While by law, IG's are under the general supervision of the agency head or deputy, neither the agency head nor the deputy can prevent or prohibit an IG from conducting an audit or investigation.

The IGs are authorized to:

  • have direct access to all records and information of the agency,
  • have ready access to the agency head,
  • conduct such investigations and issue such reports as the IG thinks appropriate (with limited national security and law enforcement exceptions),
  • issue subpoenas for information and documents outside the agency (with same limited exceptions),
  • administer oaths for taking testimony, and
  • hire and control their own staff and contract resources.

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Who oversees the IGs?

  • The IGs serve under the general supervision of the agency head. Yet, by statute, IGs have a dual and independent reporting relationship to the agency head and to the Congress.
  • Allegations of misconduct against an IG should be referred to the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).

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How are the results of an IG's work communicated?

IGs issue a variety of written reports such as:

  • Audit, investigative, and inspection/evaluation reports prepared in accordance with professional standards;
  • Semiannual reports to the Congress that describe the work of the OIG within the reporting period; and
  • Immediate correspondence to the agency head to report egregious and flagrant problems and/or abuses. The agency head then transmits this reporting, along with any comments by the agency head, to the Congress within seven days.

IGs also must report:

  • Any unreasonable refusal within the agency to provide information to the agency head, or
  • Suspected violations of Federal criminal law to the Attorney General.

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How does an IG contribute to good government?

  • IGs look independently at problems and possible solutions.
  • They issue fact-filled reports based on professional audit, investigative, and inspection standards.
  • They provide technical and/or consultative advice as new plans are developed.
  • They can perform independent investigation of allegations, as requested by the agency head.
  • IGs maintain Hotlines for employees and others to report confidential information regarding allegations of fraud and abuse.

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How can I contact an IG?

The Inspector General Directory/Homepages at this site provides phone numbers, mailing addresses, and hotline numbers for each IG. Links to the homepages of individual Offices of Inspectors General are also provided, as available.

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