The Basics of an Office of Inspector General Investigation — Taking It Seriously

A federal agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has no criminal authority. An inspector general cannot arrest counsel’s client or charge the client with a crime. The most an OIG can do within the agency is refer a person for disciplinary action. For these reasons, an investigation by an inspector general is no big deal. Right? Wrong. Lawyers should not be complacent simply because an OIG lacks criminal authority. OIG investigations can derail careers and lead to criminal investigations. Sara Kropf and Daniel Portnov describe an OIG’s statutory authority and offer practice tips that can be helpful when representing someone in an OIG investigation.