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Government fraud faqs

What is the function of the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General? 

 
The function of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to investigate allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption within the Executive Branch of Pennsylvania State government. The Office of Inspector General is an objective investigatory agency. It does not represent a specific  party or agency in an investigation and does not investigate on "behalf" of any one individual or agency. In addition, since 1994, the OIG has been investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for public assistance programs administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. The OIG conducts investigations without regard to partisan politics, allegiances, status, or influence. If an individual is seeking legal representation, s/he should consult an attorney. 

 
When should I contact the Office of Inspector General?
 
You should contact the OIG whenever you have reason to suspect fraud, waste, abuse, or corruption within the Executive Branch of stage government as well as welfare fraud. 

 
How do I file a complaint? 

 
A complaint may be filed with this office in writing, preferably on one of our complaint forms, or orally by phone. You may file a complaint by: 
  1. Submitting the online complaint form found on this website; 
  2. Calling our office’s toll-free hotline at 1-855-FRAUD-PA (1-855-372-8372) or 717-787-6835;
  3. Mailing a completed complaint form to: 

    Office of the State Inspector General
    555 Walnut Street, 8th Floor
    Harrisburg PA 17101 
  4. Visiting the office at the address above to speak with an OIG investigator;
  5. Fax a complaint to 717-787-7921.

 
 
Can I file a complaint without fear of losing my job?
 
The Office of Inspector General makes every attempt to keep your identity confidential. In addition, Pennsylvania law provides whistle-blower protection for state employees who report wrongdoing. 

 
Does the Office of Inspector General accept anonymous complaints? 

 
Yes. However, you are encouraged to identify yourself so that we may follow up with you, if necessary, to obtain additional information that would aid in our investigation.  Additionally, should you choose to remain anonymous, please provide the OIG with as much detailed information in your complaint as possible to ensure we can take appropriate action. 

 
How long does it take to complete an investigation? 

 
We often receive inquiries about how long an investigation will last. Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to predict the length of an investigation. The time period is determined by the nature of the allegations, the number of interviews that need to be completed, the number of investigations already opened in the office, whether the case is undergoing criminal investigation by law enforcement, and the priority level of the case. 

 
Will someone contact me from the Office of Inspector General regarding my complaint? 

 
Generally, we will contact you if we need additional information or clarification or to let you know that we will conduct a preliminary inquiry. A preliminary inquiry does not necessarily mean that an investigation will be opened. If appropriate, we may refer your concerns to another agency and advise you as such. 

 
What happens after I file my complaint? 

 
If the complaint alleges fraud, waste, abuse, or corruption in the Executive Branch, or welfare fraud, your complaint may be assigned to an investigator for review. The assignment process may be delayed due to the number of open complaints in the office. The complainant will receive written notification regarding the receipt of their complaint.  Once assigned, the investigator will take the appropriate steps to fully investigate the allegations. 

 
Are complaints kept confidential? 

 
All records pertaining to an open investigation are considered confidential and therefore not subject to public release. However, once an investigation is closed, some records may be subject to review pursuant to Pennsylvania’s public records laws. 

 
What is the Office of Inspector General’s jurisdiction? 

 
The Office of Inspector General has jurisdiction over all state agencies and state employees within the Executive Branch of government including the Governor’s Office. Specifically excluded from the office’s jurisdiction are certain Boards and Commissions, any Independent Agencies, the General Assembly, Municipal and County Government and any Court. If the OIG receives a complaint for which it doesn't have jurisdiction, the complainant will be made aware of that fact.  The OIG can and does refer allegations to the agency with proper jurisdiction.  The OIG also receives complaints where allegations fall with the OIG's jurisdiction, but the OIG is not the most appropriate forum to address those concerns.  In situations where the OIG does not have jurisdiction or the OIG is not the most appropriate forum for the complaint, we will refer the complainant to the appropriate organization by written notification and the complainant may wish to contact the appropriate organization to address those concerns. 

 
What types of complaints does the Office of Inspector General investigate? 

 
The Office of Inspector General investigates allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption including: serious or systematic abuse of time and travel regulations, misuse of equipment/supplies/facilities/vehicles, contract/grant administration/procurement/performance irregularities, state employment background investigations, conflict of interest/adverse interest violations, program fraud/mismanagement, program reviews, false statements/falsifications of records, misappropriation of funds, and fraud/theft in office (that is, full-time pay for work not performed), among others. This list is not exhaustive. 

 
What types of complaints does the Office of Inspector General decline? 

 
We are not the appropriate forum for complaints related to city or municipal officials, county officials, federal officials or federal or state judges. We decline to investigate complaints where an employee is merely dissatisfied with a supervisor or work assignment. We also decline to investigate anything that has been fully adjudicated (administratively or in court) or is pending before an administrative agency or pending in civil or criminal court. Finally, we are not equipped to investigate prisoner complaints that been adjudicated through administrative or criminal review channels. 

 
What powers are available to the Office of Inspector General? 

 
Pursuant to our Executive Order, the Office of Inspector General has the authority to enter upon the premises of any state agency at any time without prior announcement, to inspect the premises or to investigate any complaint. The Office of Inspector General also has the authority to question any state employee serving in, any other person transacting business with, the state agency. In addition, the Office of Inspector General has the authority to inspect any copy any books, records, or papers in the possession of the state agency, except where otherwise prohibited by law. 

 
How large is the Office of Inspector General? 

 
The Office of Inspector General is a relatively small investigative agency. Currently, the office is supported by a dedicated full-time staff of approximately 220 employees. 

 
Is the Office of Inspector General a Law Enforcement Agency? 

 
No. The Office of Inspector General is not a law enforcement organization (for example, we do not have power of arrest). However, any unlawful or criminal conduct discovered during the course of an investigation will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement entity.
 
Does the Office of Inspector General have subpoena power? 

No, although, most often, the Office of Inspector General is able to acquire the same information and/or obtain the same documentation using mechanisms already available to us through our Executive Order, contract language, and other legally binding agreements. 

 
Are reports of investigations made available to the public? 

 
The OIG believes that the citizens of the Commonwealth should be aware of the work they are doing to ensure integrity and accountability in government.  As such, the OIG publishes case summaries under the “News and Reports” section of this website. However, they actual investigative reports and evidence obtained during investigations are confidential and cannot be released to the public.