Office of Investigations Frequently-Asked Questions



What happens during an OIG investigation?

OIG conducts criminal and administrative investigations involving allegations of wrongdoing affecting VA programs and operations. Special Agents, who are Federal law enforcement officers with full investigative and arrest authority analogous to Federal criminal investigators in other agencies, investigate allegations of violations of Federal or other criminal law. Examples of criminal cases include murder; rape; theft; assault; patient abuse; conflict of interest; embezzlement; fraud in a variety of forms such as contract overcharges, false claims, bid-rigging, product substitution; drug diversion; and illegal drug use. Administrative investigators are specially trained to examine and report on serious allegations of misconduct involving senior officials within VA that do not violate criminal laws. Examples of administrative investigations include misuse of funds, improper hiring and other prohibited personnel practices, preferential treatment, misuse of official time and resources, and criminal conduct in which criminal prosecution has been declined by the prosecutor.

In all cases, the goal is to determine the truth and obtain justice. A successful result is a resolution of the allegation, which may mean the alleged crime or misconduct did not happen and the alleged wrongdoer is exonerated. OIG views an unsubstantiated allegation an equally valuable outcome of its work as a criminal conviction or a substantiated administrative allegation, because it resolves the allegation and reinforces integrity in VA programs and operations. The truth of the allegation is determined by gathering the facts through documentary, testimonial, and physical evidence. OIG obtains records through requests to VA and other Federal agencies pursuant to the IG Act, Privacy Act, and other authorities, including grand jury subpoenas in criminal cases. Witnesses, victims, and subjects are interviewed at appropriate times in the investigation. OIG interviews the alleged wrongdoer in the course of the investigation, often multiple times. Administrative investigations are generally under oath and recorded, as is grand jury testimony, but other interviews may not be recorded. Physical evidence, such as fingerprints, blood samples, documents, electronic media, is examined and analyzed, including laboratory forensic analysis by OIG and other facilities. OIG criminal investigators consult with criminal prosecutors early and throughout the investigation, and report the results of the investigation to the prosecutor, who determines whether to decline or prosecute the case. When a case is prosecuted, OIG assists the prosecutor in the various judicial phases of a prosecution such as indictment, arrest, pretrial hearings and discovery, trial, and sentencing. Many cases end before trial with a plea agreement, pretrial diversion, or other settlement. For cases with substantiated allegations that are declined for prosecution, OIG reports its findings to VA management officials responsible for taking action to address the findings. Subject to requirements of privacy and information disclosure law, OIG may post administrative investigation reports on the OIG website. For criminal investigations that result in judicial action, OIG posts press releases on the website.

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After being interviewed by the OIG, will I hear the result?

Usually, but not always. For witnesses who will need to testify at subsequent administrative or prosecution hearings, OIG or the official taking the action keeps these individuals informed of the scheduling of the matter so they will appear as needed to testify. The alleged wrongdoer will receive notice of criminal charges or administrative actions against them along with notice of their legal rights if action is taken on substantiated allegations. When the case is ultimately resolved, results may be reported in press releases or official reports. However, due to legal requirements designed to avoid jeopardizing criminal prosecution, individual privacy rights, and agency deliberations, OIG cannot provide ongoing status updates of pending matters to all individuals interviewed, other Government officials, the general public, or the media. Therefore, in certain circumstances, an individual will not hear the results after being interviewed by OIG. Any individual may request the results from OIG under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by making a FOIA request to the VA OIG FOIA office.

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Why be a VA OIG Special Agent?

As a Special Agent with VA OIG, you perform challenging, varied, and rewarding work. The position affords opportunities to make a real difference in improving Veterans’ lives by bringing criminals who prey on them, particular the most vulnerable Veterans, to justice. The variety of VA’s programs and operations, which include paying monetary benefits, providing medical care directly to Veterans, and running large agency procurement, construction, and information technology activities, exposes VA OIG Special Agents to a wider range of investigations than other OIGs and typical law enforcement agencies. If you love conducting a vast array of criminal investigations, you will do so without distraction. Federal salaries and benefits, especially special law enforcement pay and retirement, as well as initial and continual training, current equipment and technology, and the mission of taking care of the men and women who have taken care of America and its way of life provide a good living and high morale to VA OIG Special Agents. For more information on special agent opportunities visit our Career Opportunities page.

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