What is an Inspector General?
The title "Inspector General" dates back at least to the 1600s in France. The first American Inspector General was Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus Von Steuben in 1777. He was the IG for the Continental Congress. The concept of the Inspector General was that there is a need for someone to apply independent and objective criteria to the evaluation of the performance of government activities. The modern Inspector General concept began in the federal government in 1959 with the appointment of a federal Inspector General by the Secretary of State, who reported to Congress on issues such as efficiency and economy in government.
In 1962, the Department of Agriculture appointed an Inspector General in the wake of the Billie Sol Estes scandal. The current federal Inspector General system was created by the 1978 IG Act, which established twenty-nine IG's appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, with a mandate to prevent and detect fraud and abuse, as well as to recommend methods to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. The federal IG's report both to Congress and the President. Florida's Inspector General system mirrors the federal model in many respects. Section 20.055, Florida Statutes, was passed by the legislature in 1994, to "provide a central point for coordination of and responsibility for activities that promote accountability, integrity, and efficiency in government."
What sorts of things does the Office of Inspector General do?
There are two major components of the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The Investigative Function conducts independent investigations into allegations of misconduct by employees of the Commission. These allegations in many cases come from members of the public who have had some kind of negative encounter with an employee. These investigations are conducted by trained law enforcement investigators whose objective is to gather evidence to determine if the employee violated any of the Commission's Standards of Conduct, as are found in the agency's Internal Management Policies and Procedures Manual (IMPP). Sustained findings may result in disciplinary action. The Office of Inspector General does not recommend what action to take against an employee. That is left to the divisions, offices and Institute, and the Executive Director. The OIG merely conducts an investigation and determines whether or not policy has been violated.
The Audit Function of the OIG conducts financial, compliance, electronic data processing and performance audits of agency programs, as well as reviews and evaluations of internal controls necessary to ensure the fiscal accountability of the agency. The OIG also conducts Whistle-Blower investigations and serves as the agency's Ombudsman.
What is a whistle-blower?
Section 112.3187-31895, F.S., creates Florida's Whistle-Blower Act. It is the intent of the Act to prevent agencies or independent contractors from taking retaliatory action against an employee who reports violations of law on the part of a public employer or independent contractor that create a substantial and specific danger to the public's health, safety, or welfare or who reports or discloses information alleging improper use of government office, gross waste of funds, or any other abuse or gross neglect of duty on the part of an agency, public officer, or employee. The Office of Inspector General in each state agency, or the Chief Inspector General within the Executive Office of the Governor, are charged with investigating whistle-blower allegations.
You may file a whistle-blower complaint by contacting our office, or by completing an online form.
What is an Ombudsman, and what does he or she do?
The term "Ombudsman" is a Swedish word meaning "Commissioner." The traditional role of the Ombudsman is to receive, investigate and to report on complaints by private individuals against government officials. Since the Inspector General Act placed this responsibility in the Office of Inspector General, the duties of the FWC Ombudsman are to address concerns expressed by employees of the agency that have not or cannot be resolved by the normal chain of command.
How do I report a complaint to the Inspector General?
Citizens or employees may contact the Office of Inspector General at 850-488-6068, SunCom 278-6068. You may e-mail the office at any of the addresses listed on our Contact list. If you wish, you can file a complaint online. You may also mail your complaint to this address: Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Office of Inspector General 620 South Meridian Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
All complaints are treated as confidential, and the agency mailroom does not open correspondence to the OIG. No matter what method you select to contact the OIG, please provide as much detail as possible about your complaint.
What rights do I have if I am the subject of a complaint?
Employees who are members of a collective bargaining unit have certain rights enumerated in the contracts of these units. Non-sworn Career Service employees, whether or not they are dues-paying members, are covered by the contract between the State and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Florida Public Employees Council 79 (AFSCME). This contract gives employees the right to have a representative present during any disciplinary investigation meeting, or during a pre-determination conference in which the suspension or dismissal of the employee is being considered.
Representatives may advise and assist the employee, but may not interfere with the interview, object to questions, or otherwise become adversarial. Employees not covered by this contract are Selected Exempt Service, Senior Management Service and Other Personal Services (OPS) employees.
FWC sworn law enforcement officers have certain rights during disciplinary investigations found in their union contract and Section 112.531-535. F.S. All internal disciplinary investigations concerning sworn law enforcement officers are confidential and exempt from disclosure under Florida's public records law until the investigation is complete.
What if I feel I am the victim of sexual harassment?
The Office of Inspector General investigates complaints of sexual harassment, as well as other similar claims of discrimination. You may contact the OIG directly if you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination.
Sexual harassment is traditionally (and somewhat narrowly) defined as a demand that a subordinate, usually a woman, grant sexual favors in order to obtain or retain a job benefit. More broadly defined, it is the imposition of any unwanted condition on any person's employment because of that person's sex. Thus, sexual harassment is really a form of gender discrimination, and may not always involve persons of the opposite sex. Employees are urged to review the agency's sexual harassment policy and promptly report any such claims to the OIG.
Does the office investigate anonymous complaints?
Yes. Obviously, the more serious the allegation, the more intense the investigation into an anonymous complaint. In many cases, minor complaints of this sort are turned over to the divisions, offices or Institute for follow-up.
How many investigations do you handle each year?
The annual average of formal investigations opened since 1999 by the OIG has been 120. You may visit our main page and access the annual report for more detail about the Office's audit and investigative activity.