What is the role of the Investigations section?
The section investigates 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.
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 of its own volition and in response to complaints or suggestions from the general public, City employees, and contractors regarding misconduct, waste, fraud, and abuse in connection with City operations and business. Complaints may be made anonymously. Our complaint line is staffed by Intake Specialists from 8:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. For calls outside of business hours, you will be referred to voicemail where you may leave allegations, information, and contact information if you wish to be contacted by an Intake Specialist the following day. Please click here to access our 24/7 online complaint form.
Complaints are reviewed and assessed to determine their significance 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 will likely be required to prove or disprove the complaint, the likely benefits from an investigation if found sustained, and 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 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.
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 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.”
Who conducts OIG investigations?
OIG is staffed with trained and experienced investigators with diverse educational, technical, and professional backgrounds in law enforcement, accounting, journalism, and law.
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. The duration and timing of the conclusions of criminal investigations are subject to the decisions of prosecutors who direct OIG in such matters.
What kind of cooperation is required for OIG investigations?
Officials, employees, departments, agencies, contractors, subcontractors, and licensees of the City have a duty to cooperate with any OIG investigation. Cooperation includes: being truthful, candid, and forthcoming when interviewed and providing any requested records. Each department’s premises, equipment, personnel, books, records and papers shall be made available as soon as practicable. To prevent even the appearance that one is withholding pertinent information, those involved 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 potentially be relevant.
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. 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. A failure to do so subjects the employee to potential disciplinary action up to and including termination.
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 it is 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 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 provides 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 disclosures. 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.