IGO Investigative Rules and Regulations
Under City law, the Office of Inspector General has the legal obligation to “promulgate rules and regulations for the conduct of investigations and public hearings consistent with the requirements of due process of law and equal protection under the law.” They are available for comment, download, and review on the right.
Below, you will find Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning IGO Investigative Policies and Procedures. These are meant to provide a general overview of IGO investigative policies and procedure; they do not override any rights guaranteed by City employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. IGO authority for investigations emanates from the Municipal Code of Chicago, Sec. 2-56. These FAQs explain, as necessary, the IGO’s implementation of its ordinance in connection with misconduct investigations. The FAQs do not and should not be interpreted as replacing the current law or executive orders. Instead, the FAQs are intended to address discrete or unique issues related to IGO investigations.
- 1 Frequently Asked Questions
- 1.1 Mission
- 1.2 Independence
- 1.3 Jurisdiction
- 1.4 Confidentiality
- 1.5 Accountability
- 1.6 Duty to Cooperate
- 1.7 Organization
- 1.8 Investigations
- 1.9 What is an IGO Investigation?
- 1.10 How does the IGO initiate an investigation?
- 1.11 Who conducts IGO investigations?
- 1.12 What are possible outcomes of IGO investigations?
- 1.13 How long does it take to complete an investigation?
- 1.14 What are the obligations related to IGO investigations?
- 1.15 What can City employees expect if interviewed by the IGO?
- 1.16 Can a City employee decline to answer IGO questions?
- 1.17 Can a Department or City Attorney represent a City employee in an interview?
- 1.18 What is the role of a Union Representative or Private Counsel during an IGO interview?
- 1.19 Can a City employee audio/video record an IGO interview?
- 1.20 How do I request Records from the IGO?
- 1.21 Can a City employee discuss an IGO investigation with others?
- 1.22 What happens when an investigation is complete?
- 1.23 Where can the public learn more about IGO investigations?
Frequently Asked Questions
The Chicago Inspector General’s Office (IGO) is an independent, nonpartisan oversight agency whose mission is to promote economy, efficiency, and integrity in the administration of programs and operations of City government. The IGO achieves this mission through:
- Administrative and Criminal Investigations
- Audits of City programs and operations
- Reviews of City programs, operations and programs
From these activities, the IGO issues reports of findings, and disciplinary and policy recommendations to assure that City officials, employees and vendors are held accountable for the provision of efficient, cost-effective government operations and further to prevent, detect, identify, expose and eliminate waste, inefficiency, misconduct, fraud, corruption, and abuse of public authority and resources.
The IGO derives its authority and mandate from several sources:
1. Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) 2-56 | Download PDF
Important concepts contained in the ordinance include:
The IGO is an independent agency of City government.
Section 2-56-020 — Appointment
Provides that the Inspector General (“IG”) shall be appointed to a term of four years. The IG’s term runs independent of the term of the Mayor.
Section 2-56-130 — Removal
Provides that the IG may be removed prior to the expiration of the four-year term only “for cause” and subject to a hearing convened by the City Council, and a vote by a majority of the full City Council to remove the IG.
Section 2-56-030 — Powers and Duties
Provides authority to (among other things): investigate allegations of wrongdoing, review City programs to identify inefficiency, waste and potential for misconduct, and hold public hearings as appropriate.
Section 2-56-040 – Subpoena
The IG may issue subpoenas for testimony or documents relevant to an investigation.
Section 2-56-035 – Monitoring employment actions
Provides authority to monitor City employment actions under the Hiring Plan and investigate allegations of non-compliance with the Hiring Plan.
Section 2-56-050 — Conduct of City officers, employees and other entities
Provides jurisdiction over most City officials, employees, those doing business with the City, and those seeking City certification. Excludes the City Council and staff, and City Council Committees and staff.
2-56-110 — Files and reports Confidential
IGO investigatory files and reports are confidential and shall not be divulged except to law enforcement entities or as otherwise provided in the Ordinance.
2-56-065 – Response to recommendations by the inspector general
Requires departments to respond to IGO disciplinary recommendations within 30 days.
Duty to Cooperate
2-56-090– Cooperation in investigations
All City officials, employees, departments, agencies, contractors, subcontractors, licensees, and applicants for certifications must cooperate with the IGO in any investigation or hearing. Each department’s premises, equipment, personnel, books, records or papers shall be made available as soon as practicable to the IGO.
2. Executive Order 2011-5
Every City employee must report wrongdoing of which they are aware to the IGO. Failure to report wrongdoing may be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including discharge.
3. Shakman Court Order regarding IGO Independent Hiring Process | Download PDF
Provides for a completely independent hiring process for the IGO, with some reporting requirements to the Court-appointed Shakman Decree Monitor.
The IGO is comprised of three operational sections: Investigations, Audit & Program Review, and Hiring Compliance. They are supported by the IGO’s Legal and Administrative sections. An organization chart and further description of the operational sections may be found here.
MCC § 2-56 authorizes the IGO to investigate City officials, employees, functions and programs “to detect and prevent misconduct, inefficiency and waste within the programs and operations of city government.” The IGO is authorized to conduct administrative and criminal investigations, and may work jointly with local, state and federal law enforcement entities.
The following set of frequently asked questions is intended to provide helpful information regarding the nature and scope of IGO investigative activities, as well as obligations and rights attendant to such investigations. In the interest of transparency, these FAQs are provided to promote greater understanding of IGO processes and procedures.
What is an IGO Investigation?
An investigation is the process by which the IGO gathers facts and analyzes evidence to determine whether a law, rule (including the City’s Personnel Rules), or regulation has been violated. An investigation may require interviews of witnesses and subjects, review and analysis of documents, and/or surveillance, depending on the allegation. By ordinance, all IGO investigations are confidential and as such, the IGO neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation.
How does the IGO initiate an investigation?
The IGO initiates investigations on its own volition and in response to complaints or tips from the general public, as well as from City employees and contractors regarding misconduct, waste, fraud, and abuse in connection with City operations and business.
IGO investigators prepare reports of complaints received through a variety of sources. These include telephone, hotline, website, mail, email, facsimile, and in person. Complaints may be received from named individuals or from anonymous sources. Investigators are available to take complaints from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please click here to visit our online complaint system.
Complaints are reviewed and assessed to determine the significance of the complaint when measured against the IGO’s priorities, the credibility of the complainant and the information provided, the existing availability of investigative resources, the office resources that the office will likely be required to expend to prove or disprove the complaint, the likely benefits from an investigation if found sustained, and how the extent to which the opening of an additional investigation may adversely impact the existing case work of IGO investigators.
Following this review, three actions may be taken: (a) open an investigation, (b) refer the matter to the appropriate City department for its action, or (c) decline to investigate for one or more reasons. The most common reason that a complaint is declined is that the IGO lacks sufficient resources to investigate the matter.
The IGO requests that, once a matter has been resolved by a department, a memorandum describing the results of any action taken by the department be forwarded to the IGO.
Who conducts IGO investigations?
The IGO is staffed with trained and experienced investigators, auditors, certified public accountants, and lawyers who possess a diverse background in law enforcement, accounting, journalism, and law. The IGO also has on staff a highly trained computer forensic investigator. As required, investigators may be teamed up with an accountant or an attorney to assist in the strategizing for an investigation and collecting and analyzing evidence.
What are possible outcomes of IGO investigations?
The IGO conducts administrative and criminal investigations.
Administrative investigations can result in one of two potential outcomes: Sustained (which means a preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that the misconduct/violation occurred); and Not Sustained (which means that there is insufficient evidence to find that misconduct/violation occurred.
By ordinance, sustained administrative investigations are reported to the Mayor and the affected department, along with recommendations for disciplinary or other administrative remedy, including policy or program changes.
Criminal investigations may result in a complaint or indictment by an appropriate entity if there is sufficient evidence establishing probable cause of a violation of a criminal statute. An arrest may accompany the complaint or indictment.
How long does it take to complete an investigation?
A number of factors impact the length of time it takes to complete a thorough investigation, including the nature of the allegation, the number of interviews required/documents analyzed to identify facts, availability of resources, the degree of cooperation, and other factors. The IGO is committed to completing investigations as expeditiously as possible.
Officials, employees, departments, agencies, contractors, subcontractors and licensees of the City have a duty to cooperate with any IGO investigation as provided by MCC §2-56-090. Cooperation includes being truthful, candid and forthcoming when interviewed and providing any requested records. MCC §2-56-090 provides that “each department’s premises, equipment, personnel, books, records and papers shall be made available as soon as practicable to the inspector general.”
Officials, employees, departments, agencies, contractors, subcontractors, and licensees of the city are obligated to provide the best, most accurate and complete information to the IGO. To prevent even the appearance that they are withholding pertinent information, they should avoid narrowly construing interview questions or record requests, and promptly provide requested records. Even when only a general question is posed, the response should include any specific information that may be potentially relevant.
What can City employees expect if interviewed by the IGO?
It is common for the IGO to conduct interviews to develop background, determine facts, or confront alleged wrongdoers. IGO investigations are conducted in accordance with the United States Constitution, the Illinois Constitution, federal law, state law, the City’s Municipal Code, and applicable labor agreements, as well as its own internal policies and procedures.
Persons who provide information and against whom formal action is not reasonably contemplated (including administrative or criminal sanctions) are considered witnesses.
Persons against whom formal action (including administrative or criminal sanctions) might potentially be recommended are considered subjects.
Every interviewee (whether a subject or a witness), may request representation at an interview.
Depending on whether the allegations could result in criminal or administrative sanctions, subjects will be advised of certain rights or advisements at the start of each interview.
These advisements are based on case law and collective bargaining agreements. Many City employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, and most of those agreements include provisions which control how IGO investigations are to be conducted. A sample list of those provisions can be found here. Two important concepts underlie these advisements:
Subjects are entitled to union representation (if appropriate) or legal representation. The IGO allows unionized City employee subjects a reasonable amount of time to secure representation. Although not legally required to do so, it is the practice of the IGO to also apply the Weingarten rule to non-union City employee subjects who request legal representation during an investigatory interview. The Weingarten rule provides that an employee represented by a union is entitled to have a union representative and/or an attorney present during an investigatory interview if the employee reasonably believes the investigation will result in discipline, and the employee requests such representation.
In accordance with the US Supreme Court decision in Garrity, Subjects may invoke their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination if they are advised that the interview is voluntary and that their answers may be used against them in a subsequent criminal prosecution or administrative action. This case provides that a government employee who has been compelled to answer questions in an administrative interview cannot have his/her answers used against him/her in a criminal matter. In such a situation, the employee retains the right to invoke his/her constitutional right against self-incrimination under the U.S. and Illinois constitutions. However, in doing so, the employee may subject him/herself to sanction, including discharge, for failing to meet his/her obligation to cooperate in an administrative investigation being undertaken by the IGO. Subjects who are given their voluntary advisements and who refuse to answer questions on Fifth Amendment grounds will not be considered uncooperative. Subjects who do provide answers must be truthful and complete. Most collective bargaining agreements require that if criminal prosecution may be probable, Miranda warnings must be given. Most collective bargaining agreements provide that if the employee being interviewed is the subject of a criminal investigation, then the CBA “Bill of Rights” does not apply, and the interview is conducted consistent with federal and state criminal and constitutional law.
However, if the investigation is purely administrative in nature for which an adverse finding would result in an administrative sanction (including discharge), a subject will be advised that they have a duty to cooperate, and that any responses may not be used against them in a subsequent criminal prosecution. Following such an advisement, a subject must provide truthful and complete information, and a failure or refusal to answer can be deemed to be a failure to cooperate which may result in an IGO recommendation for administrative sanction (including discharge).
Prior to the start of a subject interview, IGO investigators provide appropriate advisements (i.e. administrative/compelled or criminal/voluntary) to the interviewee from a pre-printed form and ask that the interviewee sign the form acknowledging that the advisements were read aloud to him/her. Under most collective bargaining agreements, administrative rights and criminal rights may not be given in the same interview. Where an administrative interview develops such as to warrant the provision of an advice of criminal rights, the interview must be terminated and a subsequent, separate interview scheduled, at which the criminal advisements will be provided and questioning continued. In addition, if the interviewee elects to proceed without a union representative and/or attorney present, the employee is asked to sign a waiver indicating that fact.
Can a City employee decline to answer IGO questions?
If a City employee is advised that an interview is voluntary, they may invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to appropriate questions.
However, if they are advised that the matter is administrative in nature, that their answers may not be used against them in a subsequent criminal prosecution and that they have a duty to cooperate, they must answer IGO questions.
Can a Department or City Attorney represent a City employee in an interview?
No. Government attorneys represent the agency and the City as a whole and may not provide legal counsel to an individual employee in an IGO investigation. Employees may retain a private attorney to represent them during an IGO interview.
What is the role of a Union Representative or Private Counsel during an IGO interview?
Any request for a union representative or private counsel must not cause unreasonable delay to an IGO interview. If an employee elects to bring a representative, that representative may not answer questions and may not obstruct the interview. Employees will be permitted to take reasonable breaks to consult with their representative. Representatives may be permitted to clarify questions and may provide additional information at the conclusion of the interview.
Can a City employee audio/video record an IGO interview?
No. However, since November 1, 2006, it has been the policy of the IGO to seek to audio-record subject interviews. Prior to the interview, the employee is asked if he/she will consent to do so.
In the alternative, the IGO may elect, in its discretion, to utilize an independent, certified court-reporter to memorialize or document the interview. In that instance, the employee’s consent is not required.
If a witness or subject wishes to provide additional information or documentation to the IGO following an interview, he or she may submit such materials to the IGO for inclusion with the investigative file. In such cases, the person is advised to maintain a copy of whatever materials he or she provided to the IGO.
How do I request Records from the IGO?
Requests for IGO records must be made in writing. The strict confidentiality mandated by ordinance means that the IGO is prohibited from disclosing most investigative records and information. The IGO will comply with all relevant laws and CBAs when determining what, if any, investigative information or records it can provide.
Can a City employee discuss an IGO investigation with others?
Following an interview, it is inappropriate to discuss the nature of the questions or the content of the interview with other witnesses, or any party who may have potential involvement in the matter under investigation. If employees have any question about whether they can discuss that matter with someone, they should contact the IGO before making such disclosure. By the same rationale, it is improper for management to question someone about the nature or content of an interview. Management has a greater responsibility to avoid any action that would create a chilling effect on employee cooperation with an IGO investigation.
What happens when an investigation is complete?
When an investigation concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation of law, rule, or regulation occurred, the matter will be considered not sustained, and no report will be issued.
When the IGO determines a violation of City rules and regulations that warrants formal action has occurred, it issues a report as provided by ordinance summarizing the investigation, its findings, and details any recommendations for disciplinary or other action. The IGO does not and has no authority to impose discipline on individuals in other departments; rather, department heads or the Office of the Mayor make final determinations regarding the violations and the imposition of discipline on the basis of evidence compiled and reduced to a summary of findings and recommendations by the IGO. Department heads are also able to take into account additional information or factors when imposing discipline.
If a City department takes formal action against a subject based on an IGO recommendation, the subject may be entitled to information from the department taking action, such as notice of the intended action and/or supporting documentation. In such cases, the materials will come from the City department, not the IGO. The IGO makes recommendations and takes no part in the actual decision or implementation of departmental decisions concerning formal action.
However, the IGO may be called upon to provide evidence and testimony in various forms of proceedings through which an employee may appeal a final disciplinary action taken by a department head. The IGO follows similar processes when investigations lead to recommendations other than discipline, such as the debarment of a City vendor or the decertification of a firm certified as a Minority or Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE).
Where can the public learn more about IGO investigations?
On April 15, 2010, the IGO published its first revised quarterly report which instituted a more detailed reporting regime. By providing narrative summaries of investigative cases, the IGO will better ensure that its activities are more transparent and more accountable to both the City’s elected officials and the City’s residents. The quarterly reports are intended to provide the City’s taxpayers with a clearer, more informed understanding of City government, and to describe the IGO’s ongoing efforts to uncover and prevent fraud, corruption, misconduct, mismanagement, and waste in the pursuit of a more effective and efficient provision of City services.
For those interested in learning more about the IGO and its work, the IGO strongly recommends reading its quarterly reports, which can be found here.