An Overview of Inspectors General

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is a critical component of federal agencies as we know them today. Independent Inspectors General (IGs) in the Federal space were established in 1978 via the Inspector General Act, laying the foundation for over 70 IGs that serve organizations of varying sizes throughout the federal government. IGs are seen among the general community as the arbiters of fairness and efficiency and for that reason must be apolitical. Why does impartiality matter? To answer that question, we must reflect on what an IG does and the value they provide to the American people.

The IG is the head of the OIG, which consists of inspectors, auditors, and investigators with the primary mission of promoting the effectiveness of their agencies. Practically, this means detection and prevention of fraud and abuse within the agencies that they serve. It is the independent authority of an IG that is the cornerstone of its own efficacy. Only when the individual is truly impartial can it pursue, without departmental restraint or political motivation, the goal of government accountability. An IG must be comfortable exercising its authority without fear of retribution. This is particularly imperative in a time of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Problem

The OIG processes thousands of cases per year, collecting all kinds of information, some of which include complaint details, evidence, interview notes, depositions, documents, a variety of images, and any information that supports an allegation. Imagine handling all this information in a spreadsheet, or worse yet, manually in a paper file. IGs need a way to easily collect and track case information from complaint to final adjudication. IGs are critical to our federal government and to be effective, we need to make their work easy and simple to execute. When the volume of work balloons, IGs are unable to keep up and these delays create greater vulnerabilities in the agency. Imagine if we waited 2-3 years to decide if someone violated the Hatch Act and used government property for campaigning. Imagine the additional abuse that could occur as we waited for justice. IGs need to act fast and ensure the quality of their investigations is of the highest level. They need a tool capable of walking them through the process, providing automation, integrations with other data systems, sophisticated reporting, and an easy, electronic way for communication. They need a better solution.

The Solution

It is the responsibility of technology thought leaders to provide accessible, reliable, and transparent systems with which IGs can fulfill their directives, removing roadblocks to execution of investigation. These systems must meet all policies, standards, and reporting requirements, established by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to arm IGs and their offices with artifacts that demonstrate their credible, complete, and independent findings. Just as critically, this must be accomplished within the confines of a federal budget.

How is this achieved in practical terms? Simply put, the resulting tool must capture Intake, Case, and Entity data while providing analysis and documentation in compliance with Congressional standards. Given that OIG investigations and audits may often result in criminal or civil enforcement actions, electronic systems that generate legal files, template reports, and which automate approvals are particularly important. It must also be inherently flexible to allow for change and expansion in scale.

Chainbridge Solutions understands the nuances and challenges facing OIGs and continues to address these issues through a balance of technology and our domain expertise. The Chainbridge Solutions OIG solution leverages our history of expertise in the field to provide an array of features developed through close work with multiple agencies and processes, meeting the criteria unique to OIG needs. It is preconfigured to accelerate the startup process allowing Agency officials to work closely with team members to personalize and configure their systems with a much smaller investment of time than traditional software engagements.

At Chainbridge Solutions we strive to re-think long established processes to simplify the burden to the user. Our work in the OIG space endeavors to do the same, allowing IGs to get back to the important work of government transparency and accountability.

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