Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How does the Inspector General keep the Department, and Congress, up to date on findings
Results of IG audits are submitted directly to the affected agency within the Department and to the appropriate Congressional committees, as soon as they are completed. Twice a year, the Inspector General's office also publishes Semiannual Reports, which summarize recent audits and investigations. Cases of particular public interest go out to the media as news releases.
Do audits and investigations ever turn up anything besides bad news?
Absolutely! Many of our reviews show that programs are working effectively -- and many others show that effective programs can be made even more so with moderate changes. Administrators within DOT welcome the unbiased opinions to help them make good operations even better.
How does the Inspector General's office choose the programs it will audit or investigate?
Some audits are required by law. Others are requested by key decisionmakers, such as the Secretary of Transportation, officials of the agencies that make up DOT, or members of Congress. The office also sets its own priorities, weighing such factors as the past experience of an agency, developing issues and the Transportation Department's strategic goals, devised to keep the work of government useful, relevant and understandable to ordinary citizens.
On the investigative side, many OIG probes start with a referral from an agency within the Transportation Department. Others start when enforcers within the Inspector General's office suspect a pattern of criminal behavior. Still others begin when people call the OIG Hotline, a phone line specially dedicated to help citizens, including government workers, "blow the whistle" on waste, fraud or abuse. OIG's Hotline can be reached at 1-800-424-9071; its staff also can be e-mailed at email@example.com
Are audit results made public?
Most are public documents. A broad array of OIG's recent reports are available elsewhere on this website. If you are interested in a report released longer-ago than those you see on the site, please call the Director of Audit Planning, Management, and Technical Support at 202-366-1453.
Audit reports containing proprietary or non-public information should be requested through the Office of Inspector General's Freedom of Information Act Officer at 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Mail Stop J-3, Washington, DC 20590, or by telephoning (202) 366-6131.
I work for a Federal agency. I think the Office of Inspector General may want to ask me some questions for an audit or investigation. What do I have to do?
Department of Transportation regulations require Federal employees to cooperate with such audits and investigations, or face possible administrative action. Cooperation means testifying, if asked, and providing information relating to the performance of your job-related duties. Employees are also responsible for reporting to the Inspector General violations, or suspected violations, of the law or any abuse, waste, mismanagement or irregular activities regarding DOT programs. The Inspector General has access to all records and information regarding DOT programs and operations.
Keep in mind, cooperating with an OIG audit or investigation does not curtail an individual's right -- under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- not to incriminate himself or herself. Also keep in mind, Federal laws protect employees from recrimination by employers for "blowing the whistle" on illicit activity.
Give me the details of that protection for whistle-blowers.
Five separate laws protect "whistle-blowers" from reprisals such as removal or reassignment. They are the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1984, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and the IG Act. Regular Federal employees and Federal contract workers both are covered.
Allegations of reprisal are investigated by the Office of Special Counsel or the Inspector General. The IG can take a finding of reprisal against an employee to appropriate Transportation Department officials; the Office of Special Counsel takes its findings to the Merit Systems Protection Board. That board has the power to order a halt to negative actions against an employee, order reinstatement to an earlier status and take disciplinary action against an offending official. Depending on the severity of the offense, the retaliator might lose his or her job, be suspended or reprimanded, face a reduction in grade or face a civil penalty of up to $1,000.