How do investigations start?
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) receives information, which may be characterized as a complaint, allegation, or referral. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) employees are the greatest single source of this information. NLRB management also may provide information to the OIG. Individuals may choose to remain anonymous or request that their identities be confidential. OIG maintains confidentiality in accordance with Section 7(b) of the Inspector General Act of 1978. An individual's identity will not be disclosed without consent, unless the Inspector General determines that such disclosure is unavoidable.
Most investigations concern alleged fraudulent activity involving travel, time and attendance, workers' compensation, or ethics violations. OIG also investigates non-NLRB employees in matters involving fraud against the Government, primarily cases of contract fraud.
Is an investigation always initiated?
The OIG reviews the information and makes an initial determination of what action is required. If an allegation appears to be credible, the OIG will generally take one of three actions: (1) initiate an investigation; (2) initiate an audit or inspection; or (3) refer the allegation to management or another agency. If an investigation is initiated, the OIG will then determine whether the allegation is criminal or administrative.
Will management officials be advised that an employee is a subject of an investigation?
OIG is not obligated to notify management. If necessary, OIG may advise supervisors or higher-level managers of the general nature of the investigation and the name of the subject. OIG may, if appropriate, inform officials of the results of the investigation.
Is every employee contacted by the OIG a suspect?
No. Most employees are contacted to provide information.
How are subjects notified of their rights?
In a criminal investigation, the OIG uses a form to notify the individual of his or her rights and serve as a record if any rights are waived. At the beginning of the interview, the investigator will give the subject the form, orally review its contents, and ask the subject to sign the form. The interview will be terminated if the subject refuses to sign the form.
Do employees have an obligation to cooperate in investigations?
NLRB regulations require employees to cooperate with the OIG and to provide sworn testimony (29 CFR 100.21). In a criminal investigation, the subject will be informed of the right to remain silent. However, that silence, together with other evidence, will not preclude disciplinary action. Subjects in civil and administrative cases and employees who are not subjects do not have a right to remain silent, and may be subject to discipline for refusing to cooperate with an OIG investigation.
If prosecution of a criminal matter is declined, the employee will be informed of such decision and instructed that the he or she must cooperate with the OIG investigation. Statements that an employee makes after receiving that notification are not admissible in a criminal proceeding.
Do employees have a right to an attorney?
During a criminal investigation, an individual may be represented by his or her private attorney upon request.
Can employees have a union representative?
A bargaining unit employee may request union representation if the individual reasonably believes that the examination may result in disciplinary action. OIG will comply with all such requests for union representation, or will terminate the interview.
When does the Inspector General refer an investigation for prosecution or civil action?
The Inspector General is required by law to refer cases to the Department of Justice if reasonable grounds exist to believe that a violation of Federal criminal law has occurred, and has the discretion to refer a case that merits civil action.
Do OIG investigations have time limits?
Other than applicable statutes of limitation in criminal cases, OIG has no internal time limits. A complicated investigation may require a substantial period of time to complete. A simple investigation may be open over a long period of time, pending availability of resources.
Is a report of investigation issued?
If misconduct is not substantiated, a report of investigation is usually not prepared. If there is evidence of misconduct, a formal report of investigation is prepared and sent to the Department of Justice and/or appropriate management officials.
Does OIG make recommendations to management about appropriate disciplinary action?
No. OIG conducts the investigation and concludes whether a violation has occurred but does not make any recommendations. NLRB management reviews the OIG report of investigation, considers other information, and decides what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken.
Are the subject and informant told what happens in an investigation?
When appropriate, the OIG may inform the subject or informant of the results of the investigation. Upon request, OIG will confirm that an investigation has been closed. Privacy Act requirements generally restrict discussing the results of an investigation with anyone other than the subject and management officials with a need to know.
If you have questions about investigations that are not answered here, or you want to report fraud, waste or abuse, please contact one of the following OIG staff members.
Office of Inspector General
Telephone (202) 273-1960
Web page www.nlrb.gov
IG HOTLINE: 800-736-2983
The information presented here is merely advisory and does not create any rights, privileges or benefits, either substantive or procedural, enforceable in any administrative, civil or criminal matter; nor does it limit any rights, privileges, or benefits that the Federal government may assert in such matters.