Question 1: Where do I file an IG complaint?
Question 2: How do I file an IG complaint?
Question 3: How do I write an allegation?
Question 4: When do I file an IG complaint?
Question 5: What issues are normally handled by the IG?
Question 6: What happens after I file a complaint?
Question 7: What rights do I have as a complainant?
Question 8: Will filing an IG complaint prevent a personnel action from being taken against me?
Question 9: I have just been notified that I am a subject/suspect of an IG investigation, what are my rights?
Question 10: What is reprisal?
Answer 1: Where do I file an IG complaint?
You can file an IG complaint with any IG office. However, that IG office may determine that the complaint should be transferred to another IG office for action. This occurs when the complaint can be better addressed by another location's IG (for example, if you PCS and are filing based on issues at your previous base). IGs are also charged to transfer complaints to the lowest level possible; this enables the higher-level IG to be available to review rebuttals and/or appeals of the lower-level decision. Normally, the case will be transferred to the wing level (unless the complaint implicates the wing commander and/or their immediate subordinate(s)). Complaints received simultaneously at several levels will normally be transferred to the lowest possible level. Additionally, complaints filed with the DoD Hotline, SAF/IG, and your Congressman that contain issues appropriate for IG action will also be forwarded to the appropriate IG office.
Answer 2: How do I file an IG complaint?
The best method for filing an IG complaint is by filling out the AF Form 102, Inspector General Personal and Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Complaint Registration, available on the Air Force Publishing website.
- Complete all the personal information so that the IG can later contact you.
- Enter a description of the allegations (see below for how to write an allegation).
- List all relevant witnesses and their contact information, if known; ensure you include the names of any alleged wrongdoers here -- the IG is an independent fact finder and must weigh both sides in making any determination on a case.
- Attach any relevant documentation; if you cannot fit all the circumstances of your complaint in the allegation portion of the AF Form 102, you can attach additional narrative pages as well.
- Mark yes or no for whether or not you've asked your commander for assistance. If no, explain why.
- Sign and date the form. Note that this form is an official statement. You will be held accountable for knowingly providing false information.
- Once completed, you can mail, deliver in-person or email the AF Form 102 to the IG's office. If you prefer to deliver the complaint in person, call the IG office for an appointment. If you e-mail your complaint, we will contact you to confirm your identity.
We do accept anonymous complaints and give them the same weight as complaints by identified members. We cannot confirm receipt or provide the outcome of anonymous complaints.
There are also hotlines to call at various levels of command (see main website page). These are especially useful when submitting anonymous complaints. The major drawback is that you usually can't provide the kind of detail needed to begin a thorough investigation.
We encourage you to use the 36th Wing IG office, if you decide to file an IG complaint. Wing IGs are normally closer to the situation than anyone else. They often know just who needs to be contacted regarding your problem and can often resolve your issue(s) quickly. Many wings have both a primary and alternate IG. Check your bulletin board for their names and numbers.
Answer 3: How do I write an allegation?
Allegations should address the following questions:
- Who committed the violation?
- What violation was committed?
- What law, regulation, procedure, or policy was violated?
- When did the violation occur?
An example of a correctly written allegation is: Lt Col Smith misused a government vehicle on/about 18 Nov 05 by utilizing a government contract vehicle and government contract driver as transportation to the local airport for personal business, in violation of AFI 24-301, Vehicle Operations.
If you are unsure of the standard that was violated, but think "it has to violate something," include all relevant facts and the IG office will research the standard as part of their complaint analysis process. If you don't have a complaint, but need help and don't know where to go, contact the IG and we will provide you assistance or refer you to an agency that can assist.
Answer 4: When do I file an IG complaint?
IG complaints are normally not accepted more than 60 days after the complainant learned of the wrongdoing. However, if your complaint is more than 60 days old, include the reasons why you were unable to file a complaint within the 60-day period. We will address issues older than 60 days if the complainant provides clear justification for the delay and/or there is a compelling Air Force interest. However, delays in submitting the complaint can affect the availability of relevant evidence and the quality of recollection by witnesses.
Answer 5: What issues are normally handled by the IG?
IGs normally handle complaints that cannot be handled by other grievance channels. The chart in the following section lists issues that are not handled in IG channels. IGs will also handle complaints that another agency did not properly follow its process. Example: A racial or gender discrimination complaint must be handled by the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) office; however, if you previously filed an MEO complaint and believe they did not follow correct procedures, this complaint may be appropriate for IG channels. IGs are specifically charged to handle Fraud, Waste, and Abuse issues (unless the issue meets the criminal threshold for referral to Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI). IGs are also charged to address allegations of reprisal (under 10 USC 1034) and restriction. Complaints involving general officers, general officer equivalents, and general officer selects are handled by SAF/IGS; however, you may file the complaint with your local IG office for forwarding to SAF/IGS. Regardless, if you have an issue and are unsure of your options, contact the IG for advice.
Answer 6: What happens after I file a complaint?
The complaints resolution process begins when a complaint is received by the IG. If possible, the IG will acknowledge receipt of the complaint at that time. If the complaint was received via fax, e-mail, or mail, the IG is required to confirm receipt (in writing, by telephone, or in person) within 5 duty days. Our office normally provides confirmation via mail to ensure you have a written receipt. If the complaint is transferred, referred out or dismissed (see below), or you are provided assistance, the acknowledgement letter may also serve as a closure letter. You will also receive follow-up interim responses (60 days after the date you filed your complaint, and every 60 days thereafter) until we consider your complaint closed.
The next step is analysis of the complaint. This is where we (IG) evaluate the allegations and determine what action is appropriate: IG investigation, assistance, dismissal, transfer, or referral. Upon completion of a dismissal, assist, referral, or transfer action, we will provide a closure letter to notify you of the IG's action.
As stated previously, we transfer complaints between IGs if the receiving IG is more appropriate to handle the complaint; complaint transfer is not a promise of investigation--the receiving IG will conduct their own analysis and determine the appropriate action.
Assistance is provided when there is no recognizable wrong, but IG involvement may facilitate solving the issue.
Referring is used to send the complaint to a more appropriate outside agency; we normally request a copy of the agencies response to confirm closure.
We dismiss complaints that show no evidence of wrongdoing and when assistance or referral is not appropriate.
If our analysis shows there is sufficient evidence that wrongdoing may have occurred, we will investigate. If the determination is made to investigate, the appointing authority appoints the investigating officer (IO) and we notify anyone identified as a subject (person(s) who violated a law, regulation, or standard).
The investigation includes witness interviews and collection of evidence. You, the complainant, should expect to be interviewed first. The IO then writes the report of investigation (ROI). The IO will determine findings (substantiated or not substantiated) for each allegation based on the preponderance of the evidence. The ROI is then reviewed by the IG staff, a technical expert (if required), and a judge advocate (JA).
Upon conclusion of these reviews and approval by the appointing authority, you will be notified of the outcome of the investigation. If substantiated, you will not be provided any information regarding corrective actions taken. The subjects will also be notified of the outcome through their commanders, who will determine what action to take, if the allegations are substantiated.
If the investigation included allegations of reprisal or restriction, the ROI will be reviewed by each IG through the functional chain up to and including DoD IG. Each of these IGs has the authority to change the findings of the lower-level IG. At the conclusion of DoD IG's review and approval of a reprisal investigation, the complainant is provided a redacted copy of the ROI.
Answer 7: What rights do I have as a complainant?
[Excerpt from AFI 90-301, Inspector General Complaints Resolution, paragraph 2.4.]
Complainants have the right to:
- File an IG complaint at any level without going through their supervisory channel.
- File a complaint with an IG without fear of reprisal.
- Request withdrawal of their IG complaint in writing; however, IGs may still examine the issues at their discretion and treat it as a third-party complaint.
- Request the next higher-level IG review their case within 90 days of receiving the IG response. However, simply disagreeing with the findings or action taken will not constitute sufficiency for additional IG review. The request for review must:
- -- Be in writing and give specific reasons why the complainant believes the original IG complaint resolution was not valid or adequate.
- -- Provide additional information to justify a higher-level review on previously considered issues.
- -- Submit complaints anonymously. Anonymous complainants obviously will not receive a response.
Any individual can submit a complaint if they reasonably believe inappropriate conduct has occurred, or a wrong or violation of law, policy, procedure, instruction, or regulation has been committed, even if the complainant is not the wronged party or was not affected by the alleged violation. They can also submit a complaint on behalf of another individual (third-party). Third-party complainants are not entitled to a response regarding the substance of alleged wrongs not directly affecting them. Third-party complainants are entitled to have receipt of their complaint acknowledged. Third party complainants are not entitled to personal information or other information not releasable to the public under the FOIA/Privacy Act (PA). To release specifics concerning a case, a written and signed consent to release statement must be acquired from the affected party. If the affected party does not give their consent to release findings to the third party, IGs must inform the third party the matter will be reviewed but specifics will not be released.
A complainant may request whistleblower protection under 10 USC 1034 if they believe that they have been reprised against for making or planning to make a protected communication.
Allegations that have been previously investigated and reviewed by a higher level IG office in accordance with AFI 90-301, paragraph 2.4.8., will be dismissed if the current complaint does not provide new information or evidence that justifies further investigation.
AFI 90-301, paragraph 3.3 requires that the IG safeguard the personal identity and complaints of individuals seeking assistance or participating in an IG process. While this does not mean that communications made to an IG are privileged or confidential, it does mean that disclosure of those communications (and the identity of the communicant) will be strictly limited to an official, need-to-know basis.
Answer 8: Will filing an IG complaint prevent a personnel action from being taken against me?
Filing an IG complaint will not delay or prevent completion of any command actions such as reassignment, denial of reenlistment, retirement, discharge, or nonjudicial punishment. The IG system is merely an investigative body which has no authority to place individuals on administrative hold or take corrective action; only commanders can do this.
Answer 9: I have just been notified that I am a subject/suspect of an IG investigation, what are my rights?
A subject is a member against whom allegations of wrongdoing have been made. A suspect is a person suspected of a criminal offense. Your treatment and rights will be determined by whether you are considered a subject or a suspect. Since IG investigations are administrative in nature and do not normally look at criminal wrongdoing, most members who have allegations against them will be considered subjects. If in the course of the investigation and/or interviewing the subject, the IO determines that the preponderance of evidence supports that the suspect committed criminal wrongdoing, the IO will consider the subject's status changed to suspect, and will read that person their Article 31 rights including the right not to make a statement and to consult a lawyer. There are different interpretations from various judge advocates (JAs) on the appropriate time to read members rights; some do advise reading them before all subject interviews, so if you are read rights, you should seek clarification from the IO. Only a suspect has the right to have an attorney or ADC present during an interview. Subjects have the right to consult with an attorney, but may not have an attorney present during the interview.
Answer 10: What is reprisal?
Reprisal is taking or threatening to take an unfavorable personnel action or withholding or threatening to withhold a favorable personnel action on a military member for making or preparing to make a protected communication. There are very specific definitions of the terms used within the reprisal definition.
Military members may file reprisal complaints under 10 USC 1034 if they feel they have been reprised against for making or planning to make a protected communication.
There are two types of protected communications. The first is a lawful communication (i. e., a communication that does not convey an admission of misconduct, violation of the UCMJ, or violation of other applicable criminal statutes) to a member of Congress, an Inspector General, or a member of an Inspector General's investigative staff. This can be as simple as making a phone call or visiting an office to make a complaint.
The second type of protected communication is one that the member reasonably believes evidences a violation of law or regulation, including laws or regulations prohibiting sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, when such communication is made to:
- Member of Congress or a member of their staff
- Any person in the chain of command
- Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Command Chief Master Sergeants, Group/Squadron Superintendents, and First Sergeants; and their Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve equivalents
- Personnel assigned to DoD audit, inspection, investigation, or law enforcement organizations; Military Equal Opportunity; and Family Advocacy. (This list is not all inclusive; and circumstances of each case will determine if there is protected communication.)
A protected communication also includes circumstances where the military member was preparing a lawful communication or complaint that was not actually delivered, where the member did not actually communicate or complain but was believed to have done so by management officials, or cooperated with or otherwise assisted any person identified above by providing information that the military member reasonably believed evidenced wrongdoing.
The use of "protected" in protected disclosure means that you are protected from reprisal for communicating the information. This does not imply that you are entitled to confidentiality by the person accepting the communication, although for communications to the IG, we will make every effort to preserve your confidentiality. You are also not protected from disciplinary action for knowingly making a false disclosure. Finally, "protected" does not mean you have immunity against any adverse personnel actions taken against you. Only those personnel actions deemed to be reprisal for your protected communication can be remedied. Because commanders still have full authority to take personnel actions against you, filing an IG complaint will not delay or prevent completion of actions such as reassignment, denial of reenlistment, retirement, discharge, or nonjudicial punishment.
A personnel action, for reprisal purposes, is any action that affects or has the potential to affect a military member's current position or career. Such actions may include: demotion, disciplinary or other corrective action (LOR, UIF, Article 15, etc.); transfer or reassignment; performance evaluation (EPR, OPR); decision on pay, benefits, awards, or training; referral for mental health evaluation; and/or any other significant change in duties or responsibilities inconsistent with the military member's rank. A performance feedback does not qualify as a personnel action for reprisal purposes, but the resulting performance report may qualify.
A responsible management official (RMO) is any official who influenced or recommended to the deciding official that he/she take, withhold, or threaten a management/personnel action; any official who took, withheld, or threatened the management/personnel action; and any other official who approved, reviewed, or indorsed the management/personnel action.
Reprisal allegations filed with an AF IG must be reported to DoD IG when reprisal criteria are met. If reprisal allegations meet minimum criteria, IGs provide complainants Whistleblower Rights under 10 USC 1034. IGs must conduct a formal complaint analysis to determine whether investigation of the reprisal allegations is warranted. If the analysis determines an investigation is not warranted, DoD IG will be notified.
If you are a civilian employee, you won't be able to file a reprisal complaint through Air Force IG channels; you should contact the IG DoD Hotline http://www.dodig.mil/Hotline/hotlinecomplaint.html or local EO office for reprisal allegations relating to an EEO complaint. You do have the right to directly contact the Office of Special Counsel at:
Office of Special Counsel
1120 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 1100
Washington DC, 20005