I-1-3-12.Referrals From the Office of the Inspector General Regarding Suspected Misconduct and Criminal Violations
Last Update: 12/13/13 (Transmittal I-1-69)
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) receives allegations regarding misconduct and other criminal violations through various means. If, after reviewing an allegation, OIG determines that the matter should be handled administratively, it will forward the matter to the proper Social Security Administration (SSA) component.
In the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) and the Office of Analytics, Review, and Oversight (OARO), an OIG field office or the OIG Hotline refers personnel-related matters through the appropriate office of the Deputy Commissioner (ODC). After advising the appropriate Deputy Commissioner of the referral, ODC staff evaluates the referral and determines which OHO or OARO component has responsibility for initiating the investigation.
OHO and OARO give these investigations priority attention as the OIG Allegation Management and Fugitive Enforcement Division must generally be notified of the disposition of the issue within 90 days.
Unless otherwise noted in the referral, OIG referrals are merely allegations and do not imply or establish any findings. It is OHO or OARO's responsibility to promptly investigate the allegation, determine its validity, and pursue the appropriate course of action. As explained in this section, if OHO or OARO uncovers a criminal violation during its investigation, it will send the matter directly to an OIG Office of Investigations Field Division (FD) and take no further action unless the FD notifies OHO or OARO to continue the administrative investigation.
B. Hearing Level Referrals
1. Receiving a Referral
When a referral relates to a hearing office (HO) issue, ODC staff will send the referral to the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (OCALJ) for tracking, monitoring, and further referral.
If the referral involves an allegation of administrative law judge (ALJ) bias, OCALJ will forward the referral to the Division of Quality Service (DQS) within the Office of Executive Operations and Human Resources. DQS will handle the referral using the procedures in Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-1-8.
For referrals that do not involve allegations of ALJ bias, OCALJ will send the allegation by e-mail to the appropriate regional office (RO) and monitor the referral until it is closed.
2. Timeline for Processing Referrals
OHO and OARO generally respond to OIG within 90 days, using the following timeline:
Within one week of receiving the OIG referral, the RO notifies OCALJ of the point of contact who will handle the referral. The RO will also note whether the RO or an HO will be investigating the referral.
Within 60 days of receiving the OIG referral, the point of contact provides OCALJ with a written report concerning the results of the investigation and a completed copy of the attachment found in HALLEX I-1-3-91 (also known as the “response attachment”).
OCALJ will review both documents. If the report adequately addresses all the issues, OCALJ will forward the RO report and completed response attachment to ECS. If the report does not address all issues, OCALJ will discuss with the point of contact the additional information that is required.
ECS will retain the RO report, but forward the completed response attachment to OIG.
3. Investigating Referrals
a. Evaluate the Complaint
Read the complaint and any supporting documentation. Identify specific allegations raised in the referral.
Complaints must be reviewed even if the subject of the complaint has retired or left SSA.
b. Determine Whether the Allegations Are True or False
Determine what action is necessary to establish whether each allegation is true or false. This may require reviewing HO administrative records, time and attendance records, leave slips, personnel files, medical and vocational expert records, or other systems used to track claims.
When necessary, speak with the employee who is the subject of the complaint, the employee's supervisor, or other individuals who might have relevant information relating to the matter.
A bargaining unit employee has the right to have a union representative present when being questioned if the employee believes that an adverse action could result.
After reviewing all information, decide whether the allegation is substantiated. If the allegation is substantiated, contact the appropriate management official(s) for a decision as to what action, if any, should be taken in response to the substantiated allegation.
In some instances, an allegation may involve a concern about a system, procedure, or policy. If the allegation involves an internal office policy or procedure, determine compliance with the policy or procedure, or evaluate whether the policy or procedure needs to be modified. Gather enough information to justify any drawn conclusions. If the system, procedure, or policy issue may affect other offices, refer the matter to the Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge for further evaluation.
c. Prepare a Written Report
In the report, the drafter will identify:
Each specific allegation,
The steps taken to review the allegation,
The materials reviewed, and
Any individuals who were interviewed.
The report will include a statement as to whether the allegation(s) has been substantiated and any administrative action that has been or will be taken as a result of the investigation. The report must be thorough enough to justify any conclusions.
d. Complete Necessary OIG Form
The point of contact will also complete the response attachment in HALLEX I-1-3-91. The form is completed by checking the appropriate disposition response, including any monetary amounts, and signing and dating the form.
e. Send Referral to Management
If the point of contact or individual drafting the report is not a manager, send the report to a manager for final review.
C. Referrals to OHO Headquarters or the Appeals Council
ECS will forward non-hearing-related referrals to the designated component lead for action. The Executive Director is the designated individual at the Appeals Council level. For other components, the Associate Commissioner will be the component lead unless otherwise designated.
The component will adhere as closely as possible to the procedures outlined in HALLEX I-1-3-12 B.2. and B.3. in this section regarding timelines and investigating the allegation(s). However, the component lead will designate the individual(s) assigned to perform each task.
D. OIG Misdirects a Referral
If an OHO or OARO office receives a referral directly from OIG without involvement of the appropriate ODC, promptly send a copy to the appropriate ODC. ODC staff will then make the referral as explained in HALLEX I-1-3-12 A.