OIG Agent Warnings and Federal Employees
If you are a federal employee subject to OIG investigation, you will often be called in for an interview with an agent of the OIG. OIG refers to the office of the inspector general, and in this piece the abbreviation OIG will be used in place of the full words. When you are called in for an interview with the OIG agent, you are first given a warning about their statements. Normally you will have to worry about two things, either a possible criminal offense or an administration action against your job. The two are different cases and the OIG agent will investigates both.
Usually there are two types of warnings which a federal employee sitting with the OIG agent will hear. The difference between the two is equally important and talks volumes about what’s going on with the investigation. To start with, the first one is referred to as a Garrity warning. The other one is called the Kalkines warning. The following piece will highlight the frequently asked question about the OIG agent warnings.
Who conducts these investigations?
The OIG has trained credentialed and sworn agents. They are criminal investigators that are federal law investigators, administrative investigators or investigative lawyers. These are tasked with investigating and carrying out investigations.
Who should worry about the investigation?
Normally any federal government employee is the target of the OIG investigation. They face the most direct repercussion if they do not comply. It should be known that any federal government employee can be investigated by the OIG agents. There is also no exception for the SES or agency heads whatsoever. The OIG can also interview private companies, so they have a reason to worry. Most criminal investigations of the private businesses start with the OIG investigations. The OIG for the Department of Defense usually investigates government contracting fraud while the Health and Human services OIG investigate Medicare fraud.
What does the OIG agent investigate and how do they originate?
First it is important to know that OIG usually investigates a wide variety of matters such as allegations of fraud, improprieties in the administration, of department programs, federal employee misconduct, issues touching on ethics and compliance received through the OIG hotline. They also investigate reprisal against whistleblowers in the department, contractors and also grant recipients.
The OIG agent initiates investigations based on the information received from a number of sources such as OIG’s fraud, abuse and waste hotlines, DOJ referrals, GAO, and departmental. There may also be congressional requests and referrals from OSC on whistleblower disclosures. The OIG also accepts anonymous complaints; however, these may be difficult to investigate as there is normally no person for OIG to contact for the alleged particulars.
What are your rights in connection to the OIG investigation?
As a federal employee, you may assert your Fifth Amendment right to deny providing information on grounds that this information may be used against you in court. The investigation can lead to a criminal proceeding if it is accepted by the DOJ for criminal prosecution. Also this can happen if it did not need referral to DOJ. However, you will receive a written advisement to that effect, and therefore you are supposed to fully cooperate with the OIG. This therefore gives you immunity against criminal prosecution based on your statement on the issue.
Can a federal employee refuse to be interviewed by the OIG Agent?
With the exception of your right as described in the point above, you are supposed to comply fully and accept being investigated. The DAO 207-10 states that federal employees shall furnish sworn oral or a subscribed stamen when required. Nonetheless the OIG shall not coerce anyone to be interviewed. The management can direct an employee to be interviewed as requested by the OIG. It can also take disciplinary action if you refuse to obey their directive.
Do you need legal representation during an OIG interview?
Yes, a federal employee that is subject to an OIG investigation is allowed by the law to have legal representation during the interview. If you request to have a legal representation, you are entitled to a reasonable time to make your arrangements to find an attorney. The lawyer will counsel and advise you during the interview with the OIG agent.
Can you be represented by a department lawyer during the OIG investigation interview?
The answer is no. Government lawyers represent the OIG agency and cannot act on behalf of the federal employee. However, you may retain your private lawyer at your own expense for representation daring the investigation interview. The law also allows federal employees that are bargaining unit members to have union representation during the interview.
What happens when the interview is complete?
When the interview is complete, the office of the inspector general will write a report based on the evidence and records of the investigation. This report will then be reviewed to ensure it is factual clear and objective. It will then be provided to the appropriate individual such as the management and is normally accompanied with by recommendations as warranted, to enable them carry out corrective actions based on the results of the investigation. You may seek non-public OIG investigation report by filling the Freedom of Information Act request with the office of the inspector general.