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Why IG?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. George Neville
  • ASC Inspector General's office
Have you ever been so aggravated by an issue or something you felt your chain of command was unable to handle that you said, "I'm going to the Inspector General!"? Why IG? What makes the term Inspector General so authoritative? Does the IG really have as much power as is perceived? How does this perception lead to misconceptions? What can the IG really do for you?

U.S. law and Air Force instructions establish IG authority and require a channel for problem resolution that guarantees an unbiased, objective and impartial review without fear of reprisal. The concept is to resolve problems affecting the Air Force mission promptly while creating an atmosphere of trust, without fear of consequences. The Air Force IG system must sustain credible complaint and Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FWA) programs. This ensures people have an avenue to resolve problems.

Many false perceptions exist about the IG. The IG is not an authoritative judicial body, nor does it investigate allegations of "criminal" wrongdoing. It does not levy punishment, nor does it have the power to stop impending actions. The IG is not a type of "internal affairs" that may target a person or unit to root out "bad guys." Such false perceptions lead to misguided feelings that cause some to question why they went to IG.

Individuals seeking IG assistance want someone to listen and help. People often turn to the IG for personal problems, but such cases are not necessarily appropriate for IG consideration. The misconception is that the IG handles all complaints. Many "contacts" are private and not appropriate for IG channels. Examples include pay issues, domestic problems (adultery, child support, relationship issues) or civil matters.

The IG does not handle civilian employment issues, medical treatment or patient care complaints, administrative, non-judicial and Uniform Code of Military Justice actions, correction of military records, criminal conduct or contracting issues. Fortunately, these types of complaints have their own resolution channels and are referred appropriately. So, what can IG do for you?

The IG assists with issues concerning violations of law, policy or instruction, FWA or gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, inappropriate conduct or misconduct, reprisal, restriction or improper mental health referrals. The IG has the governing power to review these complaint types. The chain of command is there for these issues, but when a person has not gained, or has lost confidence in their chain, they can go directly to an IG.

As IG members, we must first ask: Who did what to whom in violation of what? What action was taken against a member and who took the action? Is there a violation of law or regulation in which someone's rights were violated? We refer to this line of questioning as "framing an allegation" and are the first steps in complaint resolution.

The IG accomplishes "fact-finding" during complaint analysis. We may conduct witness interviews, review records or confer with the Judge Advocate General's office on violations of law or instruction to determine if an investigation is warranted. If an IG member determines that there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, then a formal investigation will commence.

Last year, AFMC IG offices received 771 contacts command-wide, while 9,949 contacts were filed within Air Force IG channels. While less than 1% of all cases ever go to investigation, IG personnel resolve most issues during complaint analysis. IG staff members provide complainants feedback and closure to sensitive issues with the confidence that someone has thoroughly reviewed their concerns. Statistics alone cannot truly reflect the effort, time and care put into each complaint, but know that your AF IG system works hard for you!

So, why IG? The question might best be answered by the very inscription found on the AF Inspector General coin depicting the characteristics of Objectivity, Integrity and Impartiality. These three aspects not only define an IG member, but are guiding principles to every complaint. Complainants can rest assured that the AF IG system is one that takes all complaints seriously. If a member is beleaguered by an issue, then their focus is not on accomplishing the mission. The IG is here to restore unequivocal confidence and ensure the existence of a thorough and responsive complaint system. We are truly here to help!