Cooperation with the Office of Inspector General

To: All Department of the Interior Employees

From: Secretary Zinke

Subject: Cooperation with the Office of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) performs a vital role in the mission delivery of the Department of the Interior (Department). The Inspector General is part of the senior leadership team at the Department and the OIG helps all of us pursue economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Department programs and operations. They detect and help us prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. As public servants, we must cooperate with the OIG as it fulfills its statutory responsibilities under the Inspector General Act of 1978 (Act).

The Act provides the Inspector General access to information within the Department. Specifically, the Act states “the Inspector General is authorized to have timely access to all records, reports, audits, reviews, documents, papers, recommendations, or other materials available” to the Department relating to its programs and operations.” (Section 6(a)(1)). Our prompt cooperation with the OIG is important because it helps them to provide timely information to the Department so we can take prompt and responsible action to address matters when appropriate.

The Inspector General has access to information that may be privileged, confidential, or otherwise exempt from disclosure to sources outside the Department under laws such as the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, or the Trade Secrets Act. Employees should identify and clearly mark privileged or confidential information when providing it to the OIG.  

In addition to understanding that the OIG has a legal right to this kind of sensitive information, employees should be confident that the OIG will treat this information in ways that are consistent with legal interests and in accordance with applicable statutes. Providing this kind of information to the OIG does not waive legal privileges in any way. The OIG will work with the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) to fully understand the extent of privileges and to consult on their applicability. In addition to the Act, the Departmental Manual (110 DM 4) provides for the responsibilities of the OIG and its relationship to the Department and its bureaus and offices.

If you have any questions about your obligations to cooperate with requests by authorized representatives of the OIG, you should promptly contact your supervisor or SOL.