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Posted: 1:53 am ET
In the Spring 2017 OIG Report to Congress, State/OIG informed Congress of the following:
OIG did not encounter any attempts to interfere with IG independence—whether through budgetary constraints designed to limit its capabilities or otherwise—for the reporting period from October 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.
During this reporting period, OIG identified the following incidents where the Department resisted or objected to oversight activities or restricted or significantly delayed access to information. The incidents either arose during or persisted into this reporting period. As to each item, OIG has addressed the issue as described below:
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) has limited and continues to limit OIG’s permanent worldwide access to specific DS systems that OIG requires to conduct its oversight activities. OIG has and continues to make repeated requests for access, and DS has denied or revoked access without notice. At this time, OIG is working with the Department to correct this situation.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) delayed OIG access to requested information. OIG worked with the Department and sub- sequently obtained the required information. OIG continues to work with the Department to ensure that, in the future, INL provides requested information in a timely manner.
OIG previously explained in response to other requests from Congress that it had faced challenges investigating allegations of criminal or serious misconduct by Department employees. This limitation was addressed in recent legislation— enacted in December 2016—that requires the Department to submit to OIG within 5 days a report of certain allegations of misconduct, waste, fraud, and abuse. OIG and the Department are actively working to ensure that these reports are provided in a timely manner and that OIG receives all necessary information as required by the statute.
Related items to read:
On or about this time, the State Department has also updated 1 FAM 050 of the Foreign Affairs Manual as the reporting requirement was included in the Department of State Authorities Act for Fiscal Year 2017:
1 FAM 053.2-6 Required Reporting of Allegations to the OIG
a. Effective December 16, 2016, section 209(c)(6) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as added by section 203 of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017 (22 U.S.C. 3929(c)(6)), provides:
REQUIRED REPORTING OF ALLEGATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS AND INSPECTOR GENERAL AUTHORITY.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—The head of a bureau, post, or other office of the Department of State (in this paragraph referred to as a ‘Department entity’) shall submit to the Inspector General a report of any allegation of—
(i) waste, fraud, or abuse in a Department program or operation;
(ii) criminal or serious misconduct on the part of a Department employee at the FS–1, GS–15, or GM–15 level or higher;
(iii) criminal misconduct on the part of a Department employee; and
(iv) serious, noncriminal misconduct on the part of any Department employee who is authorized to carry a weapon, make arrests, or conduct searches, such as conduct that, if proved, would constitute perjury or material dishonesty, warrant suspension as discipline for a first offense, or result in loss of law enforcement authority.
(B) DEADLINE.—The head of a Department entity shall submit to the Inspector General a report of an allegation described in subparagraph (A) not later than 5 business days after the date on which the head of such Department entity is made aware of such allegation.
b. Any allegation meeting the criteria reflected in the statute should immediately be brought to the attention of the relevant head of a bureau, post, or bureau-level office. (Bureau-level offices are entities on the Department’s organizational chart as revised from time to time, see Department Organizational Chart.)
c. The first report by any Department entity should cover the period beginning December 16, 2016 (the day the law went into effect), and ending not later than five business days before the date of that report. Thereafter, any additional reportable information is due not later than the five-business day deadline stated in the statute.
d. Questions regarding this reporting requirement may be directed to the Office of the Legal Adviser for Management (L/M), or the OIG’s General Counsel or Deputy General Counsel.
e. As outlined in 1 FAM 053.2-5, any Department employee or other personnel may continue to raise any allegations directly to OIG, via the OIG Hotline, email@example.com, or 1-800-409-9926, or the other methods listed elsewhere in the FAM. All Employees, Locally Employed Staff, Foreign National Employees, individuals providing services via Personal Service Agreements (PSAs), Personal Service Contractors (PSCs), third party contractors, subcontractors, and grantees at all levels are also reminded of the existing reporting requirement contained in 1 FAM 053.2-5 paragraph d and the existing reporting requirements regarding criminal activity, employee misconduct, allegations of harassment, or any other reportable offenses to the relevant action office in Washington.
f. Below is a reporting template, which may be modified pursuant to the situation or needs of the reporting entity.
The FAM reporting template notes the following:
The information provided in this report is preliminary and may be unsubstantiated. Any records or information provided to the OIG in the preliminary report are compiled for law enforcement purposes under the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552. The information in this preliminary report may constitute Personally Identifiable Information. The unauthorized disclosure of information contained in this preliminary report could reasonably be expected to constitute a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a. To the extent the information pertains to an open investigation, the release of such preliminary information could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.