The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) conducts audits to review the effectiveness, efficiency, economy, and integrity of all DOL programs and operations, including those performed by its contractors and grantees. This work is conducted in order to determine whether: the programs and operations are in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations; DOL resources are efficiently and economically being utilized; and DOL programs achieve their intended results. The OIG also conducts criminal, civil, and administrative investigations into alleged violations of federal laws relating to DOL programs, operations, and personnel. In addition, the OIG conducts criminal investigations to combat the influence of labor racketeering and organized crime in the nation’s labor unions in three areas: employee benefit plans, labor-management relations, and internal union affairs. The OIG also works with other law enforcement partners on human trafficking matters.
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The Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act) established OIGs at various Cabinet level agencies, including DOL. Congress believed that by establishing independent Inspectors General within each major Federal agency taxpayers’ funds could be more prudently used and accurately accounted for; the government would be better equipped to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; and the public’s confidence in their government would be enhanced. For more information on Inspectors General in Federal government, please visit the website of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
Pursuant to the IG Act, the Secretary cannot interfere with OIG audits or investigations, the OIG has independent personnel and procurement authority, as well as independent legal counsel, and the OIG has complete and unfettered access to all DOL records and data.
The Inspector General:
The OIG develops its strategic work plan through consultations with its customers, stakeholders and others including DOL program management, Congressional committees, U.S. Attorneys, the Government Accountability Office, and other government entities. In addition, the Secretary and the Congress may request the OIG to perform an audit, evaluation, or investigation.
For its audits, the OIG prioritizes the potential areas, and – based on a risk assessment that considers program dollar size, vulnerability to abuse, potential impact on the public, and prior audit and investigative history – develops a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to address those high-priority areas. After consideration of the availability of OIG staff resources and any planned initiatives of other government entities, the OIG develops its annual work plan of initiatives, and then shares it with DOL management.
Program fraud investigations typically result from allegations or suspicions of wrongdoing involving DOL programs, operations or personnel. They may also be the result of broad initiatives arising out of prior OIG activities, or as part of broad interagency initiatives, normally in consultation with the appropriate U.S. Attorneys.
Labor racketeering investigations generally result from allegations of organized crime influence or domination of labor unions and/or employee benefit plans. They may also be the result of referrals from U.S. Attorneys, or as part of the OIG’s participation in interagency task forces targeting organized crime and labor racketeering.
Typically, OIG staff advises DOL management and/or the auditee of findings as they are developed during the course of an audit or evaluation. Before issuing a report, an exit conference is held to communicate the results to appropriate program or agency management and to obtain their comments. This management input is important to ensure that audit or evaluation results are fairly presented, recommendations are reasonable and feasible, and any errors or misrepresentations are corrected. Following the exit conference, a draft report is issued to the appropriate assistant secretary, with a request that management provide written comments on the facts, conclusions, and each recommendation presented in the report. At the end of the response period, the OIG issues its final report.
Recommendations are considered resolved when managers and the auditors or evaluators agree on the required corrective actions. After the agreed-upon corrective actions have been completed, the recommendations are considered closed. When recommendations cannot be resolved because of disagreement between the management officials and the OIG, the matter may be referred to the Deputy Secretary who serves as the DOL Audit Follow-up Official and ensures that disagreements between the OIG and the Agency are resolved.
Reports of OIG investigations are presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or other appropriate prosecutive office, for consideration of criminal and/or civil actions. The OIG also may issue an Investigative Memorandum to agency management when investigative findings may warrant an administrative action or when systemic weaknesses or vulnerabilities are identified in agency programs or operations.
The OIG also keeps the Secretary and Congress informed in a number of other ways. These include meetings and briefings; the Top Management Challenges, which is included in the Department’s Annual Report; Congressional testimony; the OIG’s Semiannual Report to Congress (which the Secretary transmits to the Vice President and the Speaker of the House within 30 days of its receipt); and a special seven-day report for notifying the Secretary and the Congress of any particularly serious or flagrant problems requiring immediate attention.