OIIG Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the function of the OIIG?
A: The purpose and function of the OIIG is to detect, deter and prevent corruption, fraud, waste, mismanagement, unlawful political discrimination and misconduct in the operation of Cook County government. (Cook County, Ill., Ordinances 07-O-52 (2007)). The OIIG conducts investigations and issues findings and recommendations to Cook County government officials. The OIIG also investigates potential criminal violations involving the conduct of Cook County employees acting in their official capacities and refers such matters for prosecution. Because the OIIG is a fact-finding agency it cannot dictate a legal outcome.
Q: When should I contact the OIIG?
A: If you are an employee of Cook County government, you have a duty to report to the OIIG any information that you reasonably believe involves corruption, unlawful political discrimination or other criminal activity by another Cook County official or employee that relates to his/her employment. However, the OIIG encourages all individuals to contact the OIIG with any information or concerns they may have involving the operation of Cook County government. Such information may reflect a concern over waste or mismanagement in Cook County operations or knowledge of an arrest or conviction of a Cook County employee or an act of misconduct.
Q: How do I file a complaint and/or contact the OIIG with information?
A: A complaint may be filed with the OIIG via the Internet (visit the Filing a Complaint page of this site). You may also contact the OIIG via 24-hour hotline at (312) 603-0745, or submit a detailed writing on one of our Complaint Forms or simply write a statement including specific names, dates, times of events, and witnesses. All hardcopy statements may be mailed directly to the OIIG. You may also schedule an appointment with an OIIG Investigator by calling (312) 603-0350 or e-mail Independent.InspectorGeneral@cookcountyil.gov.
Q: What does the OIIG do after receiving a complaint?
A: Upon receipt of a complaint, an OIIG complaint number is assigned to the contact and a triage/screening process of each complaint is undertaken. We will initiate a formal investigation when appropriate by assigning an IIG case number and investigator to the matter. In order to streamline the OIIG process and maximize the number of complaints that will be subject to review, if a complaint is not initially opened as a formal investigation it may also be reviewed as an “OIIG Inquiry.” This level of review involves a determination of corroborating evidence before assigning an IIG case number to the complaint. When the initial review reveals information warranting the opening of a formal investigation, an OIIG case number is assigned. If additional information is developed to warrant the closing of the OIIG Inquiry, the matter will be closed.
Q: Could I lose my job for filing a complaint?
A: No. The OIIG Ordinance Section 2-291(a)(1) expressly prohibits any form of retaliation for communicating or cooperating with the OIIG with an investigation. Additional protections exist if complaints are made for violations of the Ethics or Human Rights Ordinances.
Q: Do I have to provide my identity when contacting the OIIG?
A: No. The OIIG accepts anonymous complaints. However, anonymous complaints that lack significant detail can be very difficult to investigate and may result in a decision not to pursue the allegation(s). The identity of any cooperating individual will be closely maintained and not revealed without your permission or as otherwise required by law.
Q: How long does it take to complete an investigation?
A: Under the OIIG Ordinance, this office attempts to complete its investigations within 180 days. However, circumstances may require a longer period of time to complete an investigation. Therefore, there is no “average” or even estimable time in which investigations are concluded. Various factors determine the length of an investigation, including the nature of the allegations, the number of interviews to be conducted, the amount of documents to be gathered and reviewed and the extent of cooperation from witnesses.
Q: What is the jurisdiction of the OIIG?
A: The OIIG has jurisdiction over all operations of Cook County government including all departments, bureaus, boards, agencies, appointed and elected officials and employees in the performance of their official duties, as well as contractors and subcontractors doing or seeking to do business with Cook County government. When appropriate, the OIIG may also refer a matter to another agency for investigation or prosecution. (e.g. United States Attorney and Illinois Attorney General’s Office).
Q: What authority is vested in the OIIG?
A: The IIG is authorized to issue subpoenas and compel the testimony of a person or the production of documents in connection with an investigation. The OIIG employs sworn peace officers as Investigators, who can obtain warrants and make arrests, if necessary.
Q: Am I entitled to representation if I am the subject of an OIIG investigation?
A: If you are the subject of an investigation (not a witness) by the OIIG, you have the right to union representation during an interview. The OIIG also permits the subject of an investigation who is not a member of a union to have his/her attorney present during an interview at their expense.
Q: What evidentiary standard is used by the OIIG to determine whether an allegation(s) is sustained?
A: The OIIG applies a “preponderance of evidence” standard. If there is more credible evidence than not tending to prove the issue or fact in question, this office will sustain the allegation.
Q: To whom does the Independent Inspector General report?
A: The OIIG is an independent Cook County agency that conducts its duties without influence or interference from other Cook County agencies or officials. The IIG reports findings and recommendations (Summary Reports) to the President of the Board of Commissioners and the appropriate elected official, as well as the head of any department or bureau whose office the investigation pertains and the Bureau of Human Resources when discipline is recommended.
Q: As a Cook County employee or Cook County vendor, can I refuse to cooperate in an investigation?
A: No. Under Section 2-285 and 2-291 of the OIIG Ordinance, all Cook County employees and businesses seeking to or doing business with Cook County government have a duty to cooperate in OIIG investigations. Civil and criminal penalties may apply for refusals.
Q: What is unlawful political discrimination?
A: Unlawful political discrimination occurs when a person’s conduct affects a non-exempt employee’s hiring or firing or other term or condition of Cook County employment based upon political reasons or factors. Political reasons or factors may include consideration that an individual is affiliated with or is not affiliated with a political party or group, or the fact that a person contributed money or failed to contribute money to a candidate for public office or political organization.