- Why does Metro need an OIG?
- Is the OIG, in fact, independent?
- What is the OIG authorized to do?
- Do other agencies have OIG’s?
- Is the OIG a law-enforcement agency?
- How is the OIG organized and staffed?
- If I submit a complaint to the OIG, will I hear back from the OIG?
- How are employees protected from retaliatory actions by management as a result of reporting complaints to the OIG?
- Does the OIG investigate every type of complaint or allegation that is brought to its attention?
- Can I get copies of OIG Audit Reports?
- What type of audits do the OIG auditors conduct?
- How does the OIG handle indications of problem-areas?
- What can I report to the OIG?
A. All operations, functions, programs, activities, and contracts of Metro are supported by public funds. This means that tax-payers have a stake in ensuring the integrity of all these programs and activities. The OIG is, in a sense, a stand-in for the public, providing independent oversight to ensure that the public dollar is managed efficiently and with integrity.
Yes. The independence of the OIG is a guiding principle of all its operations, and is an integral part of the oversight system, functions, and responsibilities. The OIG has broad authorities to conduct audits and investigations involving Metro and those who conduct business with Metro. The OIG carries out its mission professionally and objectively. It is engaged in fact-finding and it reports the facts as they are.
A. Significant areas of authority include the ability to:
- Have full, free, and unrestricted access to all Metro records, reports, audits, reviews, plans, documents, files, contracts, memoranda, correspondence, or other data, information, or materials of Metro.
- Have direct and prompt access to any Metro Board Member, officer, employee, or contractor as may be necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the OIG.
- Make available to law enforcement agencies information and evidence which relate to criminal acts that may be obtained in the course of OIG duties.
Yes. The concept of an independent oversight agency originated with the Federal government. Congress enacted the Inspector General Act of 1978 (“IG Act”) to combat fraud, waste, and abuse in the programs and operations of Federal departments and agencies. Congress passed the IG Act after hearing evidence that fraud, waste, and abuse had reached epidemic proportions within the Federal government. There currently are about 60 or more such Offices of Inspector General. In addition to the Federal government, numerous state and local governmental entities and agencies across the nation have established such offices. The guiding principles are similar. However, certain processes and policies are determined by particular laws and rules which govern the entities. Those may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
The OIG is usually referred to as a “quasi law-enforcement agency”. We do not have power of arrest. Also, we do not provide “Miranda Warnings” prior to interviews, because such warnings are only required for custodial interrogations, of the kind conducted by police officers, for example. However, our investigative records and documents are protected in the same manner as the records of law-enforcement agencies, in order to protect the integrity of our investigations. In addition, any unlawful or criminal conduct discovered during the course of an investigation is referred to the appropriate law-enforcement entity or prosecutor’s office. In some cases, depending on the particular circumstances, this will be a referral only. In other cases, the referral, when accepted, turns into a joint criminal investigation with one or more agencies.
The Inspector General reports directly to the Metro Board of Directors. Under the Inspector General are the Audits, Investigations (inspections and reviews), Administration, and Technology units. Experts in fields related to any audit or investigation undertaken may also be used as needed.
We acknowledge receipt of complaints and advise known complainants when our work is completed if we have an address enabling us to contact the complainant. We take every complaint or report seriously. Each piece of information that comes into the OIG Office, regardless of the source, and regardless of whether the complainant’s name is provided, is reviewed. All facts are carefully examined. If warranted, further investigation is conducted which may include interviews, examination of pertinent records and documents, and research of applicable laws, policies, or rules of conduct. Because of the nature of our work, we collect and report as warranted pertinent information unless the particular circumstances of a case do not call for a report. Over the years, Metro management has instituted many changes and implemented corrective actions as a result of our reports to management about problems in operating units, activities and programs.
8. How are employees protected from retaliatory actions by management as a result of reporting complaints to the OIG?
Metro, like numerous other governmental agencies, has a policy prohibiting retaliatory actions against employees who report concerns about Metro practices.
The OIG is discrete and only discloses name of complainants if necessary to take action on the matter, such as for criminal prosecutions. Most matters do not require such a disclosure.
The Inspectors and Investigations unit of the OIG reviews and evaluates every complaint and allegation and takes action in reaction to all incoming reports and information whenever warranted. Some matters are forwarded to a more appropriate department, division, or unit within Metro. For example, reports regarding a late arriving bus or graffiti on Metro property are promptly referred to Metro Operations for appropriate action.
When issued as final, OIG Audit Reports are generally public documents, unless they involve confidential information, like attorney-client privileged information related to litigation or matters of security. Our Audit Reports are routinely distributed to the Metro Board of Directors, Metro CEO, executive officers, and appropriate Metro staff.
The public can obtain copies of the Audit Reports from our public web site. Records that are confidential are not released to the public.
OIG auditors perform a wide variety of financial, operational, performance, program results, and economy and efficiency audits. The OIG has the authority to review all Metro operations, programs, funds, contractors and consultants. Audits may be performed as planned, as a result of a special request by Metro, or as a method of investigation and analysis of a matter brought to the OIG’s attention.
When the OIG identifies indications of fraud, inefficiency, waste of public funds, or unsafe conditions, the matter is immediately referred to the appropriate unit within the OIG. Any theft, internal-control weaknesses, or other matters requiring correction and action are reported to Metro Management and the Board of Directors in an appropriate report.
Any kind of fraud, waste or abuse of Metro resources can and should be reported. You can report any Metro manager, employee, patron, contractor or vendor who may be committing fraud, any illegal act, or any practice or act you observe that results in waste or misapplication of Metro’s resources or is in violation of Metro policies and procedures. You may also report inefficiencies or unsafe conditions that may warrant inspection or audit.
Most types of fraud are investigated by the Office of the Inspector General. Some examples of fraud include:
- Metro Computer use or Internet/Email abuse
- Viewing pornography using an agency computer
- Missing cash
- Misuse of petty cash
- Theft of Metro property or funds
- Misuse of purchase cards
- Offer or receipt of gratuities over $10 in value
- Abuse of work hours
- Contractor overbilling
- False claims by a contractor for work not performed or performed in a substandard manner
- Bribery, solicitation of bribes or kickbacks by a contractor to a Metro employee
- Violation of work rules or Metro Policies and Procedures
Examples of matters warranting audit or inspection include:
- Inadequate maintenance of Metro equipment
- Inefficient procedures to ensure work is performed in the best possible manner
- Unsafe conditions
- Waste of materials that could be reused or sold