CHICAGO – Fulfilling the goals he set in January for bringing strong ethics reform to state government, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the Office of Inspector General, headed by former prosecutor Z. Scott, is on-line and ready to respond to ethics inquiries and complaints of misconduct from the public and employees under his jurisdiction.
The Governor made his announcement during a speech to Chicago civic and business leaders, government reform advocates, and top officials from state agencies covered by the new Office of Inspector General.
“History has taught us that we cannot solely rely on our own officials – elected or appointed – to always play by the rules. We need to build more checks and balances into the system. We need an office to investigate corruption and root it out,” said Blagojevich. “Over the last few months, Z. Scott has worked to develop the office of the Inspector General. Starting today, the Office of the Inspector General is officially open for business.”
Beginning today, employees in agencies under the Governor’s control and members of the general public can call the Inspector General’s office toll-free at 866-814-1113, or log on to its website at inspectorgeneral.il.gov to report wrongdoing in state government. All calls are confidential and all allegations will be investigated.
To encourage cooperation with the Inspector General, the governor signed an executive order in January that extends whistleblower protection from intimidation or retaliation for state employees who provide information to the Inspector General.
Later this fall, Scott’s office will roll-out an ethics training program for every employee in an office, agency or commission under the Governor’s authority. The program will be designed to
clear up any questions regarding what constitutes unethical conduct and how to report suspicious behavior.
“With these new reforms, we have begun putting a firm foundation in place. But we have more to do. We have to build on that foundation. And to do that, we need cooperation from our colleagues,” Blagojevich added. “I sent the legislature suggestions for improving the ethics package they passed, and I urge them to accept my changes.”
During the spring legislative session, the legislature considered a comprehensive ethics reform package and, ultimately, sent the Governor a weakened version of the bill. In response, Blagojevich issued an amendatory veto that made several recommendations to strengthen the package, including:
· Creating an independent Ethics Commission, to be nominated and chosen with the input of every constitutional officer and legislative leader, that will review and make recommendations on cases brought by the Executive Inspector General;
· Establishing an Executive Inspector General to oversee the entire executive branch;
· Establishing an ethics hotline and ethics training for all employees in the executive branch;
· Tightening ethics rules for elected officials, like prohibiting constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly from using public service announcements to promote their name or image, and eliminating loopholes in the gift ban act; and
· Ending “revolving door” practices by prohibiting state employees from taking positions with private entities they regulated or negotiated with for at least one year after leaving state employment.
“If these suggestions become law, Illinois would – for the first time in our history – have the safeguards in place that establish rules of conduct and methods of enforcement should those rules be broken,” said the Governor.
The General Assembly is expected to take action on the Governor’s amendatory veto of HB 3412 during the November veto session.
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL-- Ensuring honesty and integrity in state government --
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich created the Office of Inspector General in January 2003. The OIG acts as an independent agency whose function is to investigate fraud and abuse in state government. Specifically, the Office of Inspector General receives and investigates complaints of violations of any law, rule or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by officers, employees and appointees of each department, office, board or commission directly responsible to the Governor. The Inspector General reports any findings to the Governor, and may recommend measures to prevent the future occurrence of investigated instances of fraud, abuse or misconduct. The Inspector General refers findings establishing criminal conduct to the appropriate prosecuting authority.
The Office of Inspector General recognizes that the majority of state employees and officials are hardworking and honest individuals. However, when evidence of actual or apparent impropriety exists in state government, it must be effectively and objectively dealt with either administratively or through the court system. It is the goal of the Office of Inspector General to heighten the trust of Illinoisans in the functions of state government.
The mission of the Office of Inspector General is to ensure that agencies, boards and commissions directly responsible to the Governor maintain the highest standards of integrity and accountability. The Office investigates complaints of violations of any law, rule or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct within the offices, boards and commissions that report to the Governor. Complaints received by the office are reviewed and evaluated to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe the underlying allegations, if true, would constitute a violation of any law, rule or regulation on the part of a state officer, agency, employee or entity doing business with the State of Illinois.
The jurisdiction of the Office of Inspector General extends to the Governor, his staff, state agencies, departments, boards, commissions, and any other entities appointed, employed, controlled, directed, or subject to the authority of the Governor. Specifically excluded from the office’s jurisdiction are the Illinois General Assembly, Illinois courts, the offices of Secretary of State, Auditor General, Treasurer, Attorney General, their staff and employees. As a general rule, the Office of Inspector General does not become involved in cases involving private disputes, labor-management issues, or litigation. Matters investigated by the Office of Inspector General may also fall within the jurisdiction of other agencies. (i.e. law enforcement investigators, prosecuting authorities, other inspectors general, etc.) In such cases, the Inspector General may make a referral to or work together with other agencies to investigate complaints.
At the conclusion of an investigation opened by the Office of Inspector General, a report of investigation is completed and provided to the Governor and, where appropriate, the agency director who manages the complained of employee, contract or program. The report may include recommendations for personnel actions or recommendations for the agency to consider in addressing and avoiding the recurrence of any violations uncovered by the investigation. When appropriate, a report of investigation may also be forwarded to a prosecutor for review to determine whether the underlying facts are sufficient to support a criminal prosecution.
The Illinois Inspector General serves a valuable role, working to improve the process of government to ensure that our system of government operates efficiently and without the fraud and abuse that sometimes finds its way into government. The Inspector General must also shed light on the corruption that would cause citizens to lose faith in that system. In essence, as an independent investigative agency in state government, the mission of the Office of Inspector General is to make Illinois government work for everyone.
Investigations are initiated upon receipt of a complaint or other information that sets forth reasonable cause to believe a wrongful act or omission has been committed by state agencies, officials, or employees. They may also be initiated by the Inspector General upon receipt of credible information received from anonymous sources.
Individuals are welcome to contact the Office with information regarding waste, fraud, corruption, and abuse. It is the Office’s practice to maintain the names of complainants in confidence where possible. You may also provide information anonymously.
ABOUT THE STAFF
Z. Scott, Inspector General
In April 2003, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich appointed Z. Scott as the first Inspector General for the Office of the Governor. Ms. Scott most recently served as Chief of the General Crimes Section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois where she worked for 16 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and supervisor in the Criminal Division of that office. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Scott was as Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. Ms. Scott, a licensed attorney, is a graduate of Indiana University School of Law. Ms. Scott received her undergraduate degree from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
Deborah L. Steiner, First Deputy Inspector General
In June 2003, Ms. Steiner joined the Office of Inspector General. Prior to joining this office, Ms. Steiner served over four years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. Ms. Steiner, a licensed attorney, graduated from Cornell Law School after working for two years with the University of Missouri, Columbia in management and training. Ms. Steiner received her undergraduate degree from Manchester College in Indiana.
William Maloney, Director of Investigations
In June 2003, Mr. Maloney assumed the position of Director of Investigations. More recently, Mr. Maloney was a Supervisor and Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division where he worked for approximately 30 years. As an IRS supervisor and special agent, Mr. Maloney participated in the investigation and prosecution of cases that included criminal tax violations and allegations of money laundering, fraud, asset forfeiture, public corruption and narcotics trafficking.
The Office of Inspector General also employs additional lawyers who assist in the investigations, create policy for the office, and analyze legal matters. The office investigators are tasked with the investigation of the complaints that come to the office through the hotline, mailings, faxes, or office visits. Finally, the office is supported by a dedicated and hard-working administrative staff.
The investigations conducted by the Office of Inspector General are confidential in nature. Neither the individual who referred the complaint to the OIG nor any member of the public may obtain information about open, pending, or closed complaints. Confidentiality is at the core of the office and even the mere existence of a complaint will not be disclosed until such time as disclosure may become appropriate.
Because the Office conducts its work confidentially, complainants are not normally apprised of the progress of investigations or reviews and may not be informed about the disposition of an investigation or review.
It is the general policy of the Office to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation or review prior to the disposition of the matter by the Inspector General.
How do I file a complaint?
You may file a complaint by (1) calling the office at our toll free number (866) 814-1113; (2) writing us a letter to be sent to Office of Inspector General, Attention Complaint Division, 32 West Randolph, Suite 1300, Chicago, Illinois 60601; (3) you may fax us a letter at (312) 814-5479; or (4) you may visit our office at the address below to fill out a complaint form. Our complaint form is also available for printing on this website.
After I file a complaint, what happens?
If the complaint alleges a violation of law, rule, or regulation or fraud, waste, corruption or abuse by an employee or vendor falling under the Governor, your complaint will be assigned to an investigator for review. If the complaint is not made anonymously, you will receive a letter from our office acknowledging receipt of the complaint. Depending on the nature of the complaint, it is not likely that you will hear from our office about the complaint.
What types of complaints does the Office of Inspector General investigate?
The OIG investigates alleged violations of any law, rule or regulation committed by any state employee falling under the Governor’s jurisdiction or companies doing business with the agencies, boards or commissions of the Governor. That means the office investigates allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, or corruption within the Governor’s agencies, boards or commissions and the companies doing business with them.
What types of complaints does the OIG decline?
We are not the appropriate forum for complaints related to city or municipal officials, county officials, or federal officials. We also do not investigate complaints related to employees of the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Comptroller, Auditor General, or State Treasurer. Finally, we are not equipped to investigate prisoner complaints which have been adjudicated through administrative and criminal review channels.
Office of Inspector General
32 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 814-5600 [Reception]
(866) 814-1113 [Hotline]
(312) 814-5479 [Fax]