Our firm has handled many OIG investigations for career government employees, SES political appointees, and outside contractors working for the government. It can be a stressful and anxious process to be the subject of this type of investigation, and you may feel very alone during it, since you feel as though you cannot talk to your colleagues about it.

We've represented clients in many federal agencies, including Department of Homeland Security, the Interior Department, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the Treasury Department. 

Although the OIGs are tasked with investigating "waste, fraud and abuse," we have seen many OIG investigations turn into criminal investigations. It is dangerous to assume that because an OIG agent is asking the questions, that the only risk is to your job. We work with clients not only to avoid a criminal investigation, but also to manage the risk to their reputation by a public report of the investigation on an agency's website.

Federal government employees are the targets of OIG investigations and face the most direct repercussions. Any government employee–no matter who you are–can be investigated. There’s no exception for SES or heads of agencies. Private companies should also worry. Many criminal investigations of private companies start with OIG investigations. For example, the OIG for Health and Human Services investigates Medicare fraud; that can easily lead to a False Claims Act case or criminal charges. The OIG for the Department of Defense often instigates government contracting fraud investigations.

What does an OIG investigate?
  1. Irregularities in procurement, such as soles sourcing a contract that should have been bid competitively, or failing to disclose a conflict of interest with an entity working with the agency;
  2. Improper use of government resources, including embezzlement or use of grant funds;
  3. Retaliation against whistleblowers;
  4. Improper hiring practices or personnel decisions;
  5. Falsifying time or work records;
  6. Violations of agency ethics and compliance rules.

The results of an OIG investigation may be made public through published reports. Each OIG has its own practice with respect to publishing investigation results. Some offices publish only a summary of the investigatory findings and others publish redacted final reports.


We have written extensively about OIG investigations on our blog, Grand Jury Target. Below is a few links to articles that you may find helpful as you navigate an investigation.

How an OIG Investigation Becomes a Criminal Investigation

OIG Investigations - Why Lawyers and Clients Should Both Worry

OIG Investigations - Why Lawyers and Clients Should Both Worry (Part II)

Fighting Back Against OIG Investigations (But Losing)