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MATTERS INAPPROPRIATE FOR INSPECTOR INVESTIGATION
The Command Inspector General will refer investigations of certain types of allegations to other organizations.
Major Crimes: NCIS has authority to investigate allegations that DON civilian or military personnel have committed major crimes, which are defined in SECNAVINST 5520.3B (Criminal and Security Investigations) as those offenses for which imprisonment for more than one year may be imposed under the UCMJ or federal, state, or local laws (such crimes often are referred to as felonies). Although IG organizations often investigate standards of conduct violations, many of the standards are derived from Federal felony statutes (see, for example, Office of Government Ethics Regulations at 5 CFR 2635.401 through 503 for a discussion of conflicts of interest based on a criminal statute, 18 USC 208, and conflicts based on agency regulations). In those cases, NCIS should be apprised of the allegations before the IG investigation proceeds. When NCIS has reason to believe the cognizant United States Attorney will not prosecute a case, it may decline jurisdiction in order to permit an IG investigation to proceed. When a matter appropriate for an IG investigation must be referred to NCIS for investigation pursuant to SECNAVINST 5520.3B, the IG organization should log the case into its tracking system and monitor the progress of the NCIS investigation. Should the NCIS investigation fail to establish a basis for criminal prosecution, NCIS may return the action to the IG organization for such further investigation as may be necessary to permit the responsible authority to determine whether non-criminal (judicial or administrative) action is appropriate.
Crimes Committed by Military Personnel: A request for an IG inquiry may arrive in the form of a complaint alleging that a military member has committed an offense punishable under the UCMJ. When such cases indicate the commission of a major crime within the jurisdiction of NCIS, they must be referred to it for investigation. Whenever NCIS declines to investigate the matter, the IG organization should next consider referring the allegation to the alleged violator's commander for action. See Rules for courts-martial 303 and 306. A referral is appropriate when the allegation is not one that would normally be the subject of an IG investigation. When a matter appropriate for an IG investigation could constitute an offense punishable under the UCMJ, close coordination with the convening authority is necessary to ensure the IG investigation does not interfere with any potential or actual judicial action.
Adverse Actions: Military and civilian personnel often seek IG assistance when faced with adverse action for which another more specific remedy or means of redress is available. For example, many adverse personnel actions taken against civilian employees are able to be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or subject to resolution through agency grievance procedures. Non-judicial punishments and court-martial actions under the UCMJ are subject to the appellate process within the military judicial system. Other individual complaints of wrong by military personnel may be handled through Article 138 UCMJ or Article 1150 U.S. Navy Regs procedures. In such cases, the complainant should be referred to the appropriate authority to resolve the matter. The IG system is not the "court of first resort" for most matters.
Equal Opportunity/Equal Employment Opportunity Cases: Complaints of discrimination should be addressed through the command EO/EEO process. In some cases, sexual harassment may be appropriate for IG inquiry, but all allegations of sexual assault should be referred to NCIS or civil authorities, as appropriate. When allegations of discrimination are mixed with other allegations appropriate for IG inquiry, tell the complainant which matters the IG organization will investigate, and which should be taken through the EO/EEO process. When the allegations are so intertwined as to make separation inefficient, consultation with EO/EEO investigative personnel is appropriate to decide how to proceed.
Correction of Fitness Reports: The Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) is the appropriate authority to review allegations of improper fitness reports and other requests for correction of records. Allegations of reprisal for military whistleblowing should be investigated by the Inspector General; however, this is not a hard requirement.
Chain of Command: Many requests for assistance are best handled within the chain of command and should be referred to it for action. It is appropriate to request notification of the action taken. Be alert for systemic problems that would best be addressed through an IG investigation or inspection.
Redress of Wrongs: The fact that an individual believes he or she has been wronged by "the system" is not itself sufficient to justify an IG investigation. IGs are not a substitute for chain of command and other dispute resolution mechanisms, and should not be used for that purpose unless there is evidence those systems are being misused or are malfunctioning. Complaints from individuals seeking relief from adverse personnel or disciplinary actions, unfavorable findings in EO/EEO investigations, or other matters for which the chain of command provides a review mechanism, should be accepted for IG investigation only when coupled with a non-frivolous allegation that the chain of command is unable or unwilling to address the matter fairly and impartially.
Outside Organizations: Some violations of law or regulations must be investigated by specific organizations outside of the Marine Corps. For example, allegations of Hatch Act violations (18 U.S.C. 594 et.seq: Partisan Political Activities) must be referred to the Office of Special Counsel. The Department of Labor is responsible for investigation of many matters relating to wages and hours of work. Some outside organizations have special or unique powers to help. For example, the Office of the Special Counsel can seek a stay of a pending personnel action it believes is based on a prohibited personnel practice. Military personnel who present claims of reprisal to the DODIG for protected whistleblowing activity have statutory rights that do not exist if they present the claim to the IGMC or Command Inspector General. Complainants should be advised of these special circumstances so they may make an informed choice among the investigative organizations authorized to address their concerns. When an outside organization such as the Office of Special Counsel initiates an investigation into a matter that is already the subject of an IG investigation, it may be appropriate to suspend the IG investigation pending the outcome of the external investigation.
“Hotline Tips” for filing a complaint with the Command Inspector General
The pointers listed below will help you understand the system and what the Command Inspector can do for you.
1. BE SURE THERE IS A PROBLEM: Personal peeves loom large in the minds of some Marines, but there is little the Inspector can do about a peeve. If the cooks consistently turn out lousy chow, that's a problem. If someone doesn't like the menu for one particular meal, that's a peeve.
2. GIVE THE CHAIN OF COMMAND A CHANCE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM: The chain of command consists of the people who can solve problems. Your chaplain, congressman, or Inspector General can help on occasion, but they must ultimately work with the chain of command.
3. TRY ALL OTHER APPROPRIATE REMEDIES: The Command Inspector General is a sort of "court of last resort." If other remedies are available, they must be used first.
4. BE TOTALLY HONEST WITH THE INSPECTOR GENERAL; ONCE THE INSPECTOR STARTS INVESTIGATING, HE OR SHE WILL KNOW SOON ENOUGH IF THE TRUTH IS TWISTED: A lot of time and effort will be wasted if you are not honest in your complaint.
5. KEEP IN MIND THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S REGULATORY AND STATUTORY LIMITS: The Inspector General cannot change a regulation just because it does not suit you. The Inspector General can, however, recommend changes to regulations that are determined to be inappropriate or unfair.
6. THE INSPECTOR GENERAL IS NOT A COMMANDER; HE OR SHE CAN ONLY RECOMMEND, NOT ORDER: You may get upset because nothing seems to happen as a result of your complaint. Keep in mind that the Inspector General can advise a commander, but cannot order him or her. There may be good reasons why the recommendation was not acted upon.
7. THE INSPECTOR GENERAL CAN ONLY RESOLVE A CASE ON THE BASIS OF PROVABLE FACT: If the Inspector General cannot find concrete proof, he cannot resolve the case in your favor. Just because you say your supervisor violated the rules does not make it a proven fact.
8. DO NOT EXPECT IMMEDIATE RESULTS FROM AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION OR EVEN A COMPLETED ONE: It is human nature to tend to look at things from a very personal point of view. Some people assume that the commander has intervened and muzzled the Inspector if they do not hear the results of the investigation immediately. Heavy workloads require time.
9. BE PREPARED TO TAKE "NO" FOR AN ANSWER: Do not assume that a negative answer from the Inspector General is wrong just because it seems impalpable. If you are absolutely certain the answer is wrong, and if you have some additional evidence to support that certainty, the case may be reconsidered. If, on the other hand, you are merely unhappy because the report does not go in your favor, it is pointless to continue presenting the IG with the same complaint and the same evidence.
After careful consideration of these pointers, you will be able to determine whether you have a problem appropriate for the Inspector. You will also save yourself and others a lot of time and avoid unnecessary frustration.
Filing A Complaint
PLEASE READ "HOTLINE TIPS" BEFORE CONTINUING
FILING A COMPLAINT WITH THE COMMAND INSPECTOR GENERAL
1. Avenues of Redress: In most situations law or regulation provide Marines a remedy or means of redress. Marines must exhaust these venues before the Command Inspector General can provide assistance. Once the Marine has used the available redress procedures, to include utilizing his or her chain of command, Inspector General assistance is limited to a review of the situation to determine if the Marine was afforded due process provided by law or regulation.
2. Content of Complaint: To assist in the review of the complaint, provide as much of the following information as possible:
• Who...Service Member's or employee's full name, rank/grade, and duty station
• What...Specific wrongdoing and why you believe the activity was misconduct, to include the rule, regulation or law you think they violate
• Where...Location where the wrongdoing occurred
• When...Specific dates and times
• How much...estimated dollar loss
• Why and how...Describe why and how you believe the individual perpetrated the offense
Don't forget to include:
• Possible witnesses
• What you have done to try to resolve the issue?
• What you want the IG to do?
The below format may assist you with forming your complaint:
3. Website to submit a complaint: https://hotline.usmc.mil
4. Confidentiality: You may request to remain "confidential." We will make every effort to protect your identity from disclosure; however, we cannot guarantee confidentiality since disclosure may be required during an investigation or in the course of corrective action.
5. Anonymity: You also have the right to remain anonymous. If you choose to remain anonymous, we will not be able to advise you of the status or outcome of your complaint. Anonymous complaints are given the same attention as non-anonymous complaints. However, it may be more difficult to determine whether an investigation is warranted without additional information. Absolute anonymity is not guaranteed.
6. Investigative Merit: All complaints received will be reviewed to determine if an investigation is warranted. A complaint, in and of itself, does not guarantee an investigation.