OIG 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 OIG Policies and Procedures. These are meant to provide a general overview of OIG  policies and procedures for investigations and program audits; they do not override any rights guaranteed by City employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. OIG authority for investigations emanates from the Municipal Code of Chicago, Sec. 2-56. 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 OIG investigations and audits.

Mission

OIG is an independent, nonpartisan oversight agency whose mission is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity in the administration of programs and operation of City government. OIG achieves this mission through,

  •  Administrative and criminal investigations
  • Audits of City programs and operations
  • Reviews of City programs, operations, and policies

From these activities, OIG issues reports of findings and recommendations that ensure City officials, employees, and vendors are held accountable for the provision of efficient, cost effective, government operations. OIG further seeks to prevent, detect, identify, expose, and eliminate waste, inefficiency, misconduct, fraud, corruption, and abuse of public authority and resources. OIG derives its authority and mandate from the Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) 2-56.  Important concepts contained in the ordinance include,

Independence

OIG 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 2-56-101 — Appropriations

The appropriations available to pay for the expenses of the office of inspector general during each fiscal year shall be not less than one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the annual appropriation of all funds contained in the annual appropriation ordinance, as adjusted. For purposes of this section, “as adjusted” means subtracting, before applying the percentage: (i) all funds for services to sister agencies pursuant to intergovernmental agreement as provided in Section 2-56-030, and (ii) all funds appropriated for pension payments above those amounts set forth in the appropriation ordinance for fiscal year 2014.

Jurisdiction

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.

Section 2-56-030 — Sister agencies

Provides jurisdiction over any sister agency, as that term is defined in Section 1-23-010 of the Municipal Code, pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement that the city may enter into with such sister agency as authorized by the City Council, and as such power or duty may be modified by such agreement.

Confidentiality 2-56-110 — Files and reports Confidential

OIG investigatory files and reports are confidential and shall not be divulged except to law enforcement entities or as otherwise provided in the Ordinance.

Accountability

2-56-065 – Response to recommendations by the inspector general

Requires departments to respond to OIG 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 OIG in any investigation or hearing. Each department’s premises, equipment, personnel, books, records or papers shall be made available as soon as practicable to OIG
  • Every City employee must report wrongdoing of which they are aware to OIG. Failure to report wrongdoing may be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including discharge, (Executive Order 2011-5)
  • Every city contract and every bid, proposal, application or solicitation for a city contract, and every application for certification of eligibility for a city contract or program shall contain a statement that the person understands and will abide by all provisions of this chapter

Shakman Court Order regarding OIG Independent Hiring Process

Provides for a completely independent hiring process for OIG, with some reporting requirements to the Court-appointed Shakman Decree Monitor. (Download PDF)

Organization

OIG is comprised of three operational sections: Investigations, Audit & Program Review, and Hiring Overisight. They are supported by OIG’s Legal and Administrative sections.

Investigations

MCC § 2-56 authorizes OIG to investigate City officials, employees, functions, and programs “to detect and prevent misconduct, inefficiency and waste within the programs and operations of city government.”  OIG 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 OIG 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 OIG processes and procedures.

What is an OIG Investigation?

An investigation is the process by which OIG 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 OIG investigations are confidential and as such, OIG neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation.

How does OIG initiate an investigation?

OIG 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. OIG investigators prepare reports of complaints received through a variety of sources. These include telephone, hotline, website, mail, email, and facsimile. 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 OIG’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 OIG investigators. Following this review, three actions may be taken: (a) open an investigation, (b) refer the matter to the appropriate City department, another OIG section, the legislative inspector general, the appropriate sister agency, or the appropriate federal, state or local law enforcement authorities for investigation or other appropriate action, or (c) decline to investigate for one or more reasons. OIG 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 OIG.

Complaints alleging ethics ordinance violations will also be reviewed to determine if they should be opened, referred, or declined. However, by law these complaints may only be declined if the complaint “lacks foundation” or “does not relate to a violation of Chapter 2-156 [the Governmental Ethics ordinance].” In addition, ethics ordinance complaints may only be referred to the employee’s supervisor if “the potential violation is minor and can be resolved internally as a personnel matter.” (MCC § 2-56-050(b))

Who conducts OIG investigations?

OIG 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. OIG 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 OIG investigations?

OIG 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  or an investigation has highlighted an issue that requires a public advisory or a notification to a department); 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. OIG is committed to completing investigations as expeditiously as possible.

What are the obligations related to OIG investigations?

Officials, employees, departments, agencies, contractors, subcontractors and licensees of the City have a duty to cooperate with any OIG 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 OIG. 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 OIG?

It is common for OIG to conduct interviews to develop background, determine facts, or confront alleged wrongdoers. OIG 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.

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 OIG 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. OIG 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 OIG 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 OIG. 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 OIG recommendation for administrative sanction (including discharge).

Prior to the start of a subject interview, OIG 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 OIG 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 OIG 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 OIG investigation. Employees may retain a private attorney to represent them during an OIG interview.

What is the role of a Union Representative or Private Counsel during an OIG interview?

Any request for a union representative or private counsel must not cause unreasonable delay to an OIG 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 OIG interview?

No. However, since November 1, 2006, it has been the policy of OIG 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, OIG 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 OIG following an interview, he or she may submit such materials to OIG 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 OIG.

Can a City employee discuss an OIG 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 OIG 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 OIG 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 OIG 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.

OIG 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 OIG. 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 OIG 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 OIG.

OIG makes recommendations and takes no part in the actual decision or implementation of departmental decisions concerning formal action. However, OIG 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. OIG 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).

Audits

The Audit and Program Review (APR) section supports OIG’s mission by conducting independent, objective analysis and evaluation of City programs and operations, issuing public reports, and making recommendations to strengthen and improve the delivery of City services. All City department activities, contractors, vendors, and others are subject to audit. APR staff primarily conduct performance audits as defined by generally accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAS or “Yellow Book,” December 2011 revision) established by the Comptroller General of the United States, paragraph 2.10: “Performance audits are defined as audits that provide findings or conclusions based on an evaluation of sufficient, appropriate evidence against criteria.” APR may also conduct other work such as OIG Advisories, descriptions of programs, or other non-evaluative reports that may be audit-based but do not fit the GAS 2.10 definition of performance audit. APR’s role is separate from but complementary to OIG Investigations. While Investigations primarily examines allegations of individual misconduct or wrongdoing, APR focuses on the effectiveness and efficiency of programs and processes—not individuals. However, if staff discover evidence of fraud, illegal acts, or serious violations of provisions of contracts or grant agreements they must report these to OIG management, and the matter may be referred to other parties with jurisdiction over it, including OIG Investigations.

How Does OIG Conduct Audits?

Performance audits have four major phases: planning, fieldwork, reporting, and follow-up.

Audit Planning Phase

Exploratory Research APR publishes an Annual Plan (available on the OIG web site) that expresses priorities and potential projects for the fiscal year. Before launching an audit our staff conducts exploratory research. APR staff may contact you during this research phase to ask for information about a program or process so we can better assess what value an OIG performance audit could bring to the topic.

Engagement Letter Once the exploratory research is complete and the Inspector General approves the launch of a performance audit, APR sends a formal Engagement Letter to the department head announcing the start of the audit and describing the topic area. Typically the letter will request a meeting (or “Entrance Conference”) with the department head or any designees knowledgeable about the topic, at the department’s offices.

Entrance Conference At the Entrance Conference, APR staff will describe the broad goals of the performance audit, request a contact person at your department, and answer any initial questions you may have. APR may also ask you some general questions about the topic area and request basic documents such as relevant policy manuals, organizational charts, or prior audits.

Refining Objectives, Scope, and Methodology APR staff will continue to gather information from you about the topic area in order to understand how the relevant processes work. We are the auditors and you are the experts so we will ask you to share your expertise with us and we will seek information with knowledgeable front-line staff as well as management. During this phase, APR staff will refine and focus the audit objectives, scope, and methodology. • “Objectives” are the specific questions that a performance audit is intended to answer (or statements of what the audit is intended to accomplish). • “Scope” expresses the boundaries of the audit and is determined by the audit objectives. Scope also identifies the subject matter, entity, problem, documents, time period, and/or locations that the audit will evaluate. • “Methodology” is the procedures used to gather and analyze evidence needed to address the objectives within the scope selected. APR staff will keep department management informed about any significant changes to objectives during the course of the audit. Any time you have questions about the audit, do not hesitate to ask.

Fieldwork

During fieldwork, APR staff will collect and analyze information to address the audit objectives. Depending on the audit’s objectives, scope, and methodology, fieldwork could involve data analysis, interviewing staff, observing processes, or other activities. Some fieldwork may be done at your location, while data analysis typically occurs in OIG offices.

Audit Interviews Audit interviews are not investigative interviews. APR staff conduct interviews in order to learn about your department’s operations or confirm our understanding of information.

Analysis and Findings The results of fieldwork contribute to audit findings, which are structured messages that support the overall answers to the audit objectives. Findings are based on the results, both positive and negative, of fieldwork and are supported by sufficient, appropriate evidence. Findings may include four elements: condition (“what is”), criteria (“what should be”), effect or potential effect (“what is the impact?”), and cause (“why did it happen?”). Negative findings are typically followed by OIG recommendations for general corrective actions.

Continuous Communication APR staff will keep department management informed of the results of their fieldwork, both positive and negative. We encourage you to initiate immediate corrective action on any negative findings, and we will include any such action in the audit report. If during the course of the audit APR staff discover something that is not significant enough to be a finding but would be useful for department management to know, we will communicate the issue to management orally or in writing. The department is not required to respond to such issues.

Reporting

Exit Conference and Report Completion After an extensive internal review process, APR staff will send the draft audit report to department management and typically request a final meeting (or “Exit Conference”) to discuss the findings and recommendations and resolve any disagreements on the facts reported. We will then invite management to submit a written response to be included in the final report published on the OIG website. We encourage you to clearly state in the written response whether the department agrees with the audit finding and what corrective actions it will take. If an audit is terminated prior to completion, staff will inform the department’s management and prepare a memorandum summarizing the results of work performed and the reason the audit was terminated.

Publication The findings and conclusions of APR performance audits are published in reports directed to the Mayor and the City Council and published on the OIG website.

Goal of Audit Reports The purposes of audit reports are to communicate results to auditee management and City officials, communicate results to the public, make the results clear and understandable, and facilitate future follow-up to determine whether corrective action has been taken.

Follow-Up

Approximately six months after report publication, APR staff and the IG will determine how to follow up with you on corrective actions taken pursuant to the audit report. Depending on the nature of the original findings and corrective actions needed, we may decide to postpone follow-up for an additional six months. If there were no negative findings or corrective actions resulting from the original audit, APR will not issue a follow-up report.

How do I request records from OIG?

Requests for OIG records must be made in writing. The strict confidentiality mandated by ordinance means that OIG is prohibited from disclosing most investigative records and information. OIG will comply with all relevant laws and CBAs when determining what, if any, investigative information or records it can provide.

Where can the public learn more about OIG work?

On April 15, 2010, OIG published its first revised quarterly report which instituted a more detailed reporting regime. By providing narrative summaries of investigative cases, OIG 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 OIG’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 OIG and its work, OIG strongly recommends reading its quarterly reports, which can be found here.