The Office of Inspector General (OIG), pursuant to section 20.055(2), Florida Statutes, is "established in each state agency to provide a central point for coordination and responsibility for activities that promote accountability, integrity, and efficiency in government." Under the direction of the OIG, the Investigations Section is primarily responsible for initiating, conducting, supervising, and coordinating investigations designed to detect, deter, prevent, and eradicate fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, and other abuses in state government.
The OIG remains independent of the Department in order to conduct complete and impartial investigations as mandated by section 20.055(6)(d), Florida Statutes, which provides, "Conduct investigations and other inquiries free of actual or perceived impairment to the independence of the inspector general or the inspector general's office. This shall include freedom from any interference with investigations and timely access to records and other sources of information."
To reach these goals, the OIG's focus is on staff and provider "misconduct of a serious nature," such as: falsification of client home visits, a breach of confidential information pertaining to a client, and allegations of fraud, waste or abuse in facilities. Other allegations, such as rude behavior or failure to return telephone messages, are better suited to review by management and are referred to the appropriate manager/supervisor for review and corrective action.
Requests for assistance or investigations are received mainly via telephone and letters. Many complaints can be resolved expeditiously with a preliminary inquiry, while others require an investigation. Although some complainants wish to remain anonymous, it makes the investigator's job difficult and sometimes impossible to complete. Often, when an anonymous allegation of wrongdoing is received, all of the facts are not presented. When this happens, the investigator is unable to contact the person who made the allegation in order to obtain sufficient information to conduct an investigation. It is preferred that all allegations be submitted with the complete contact information on the complainant.
The "Whistle-blower's Act" is designed to protect state employees from retaliation by management in the event that a complainant is identified. "Whistle-blower" allegations must be submitted in writing, and be signed by the complainant. When the allegation is received, it must be initially processed through the Chief Inspector General for determination and assignment under the criteria as listed and defined in section 112.3187, Florida Statutes. If a case meets the "whistle-blower" criteria, the "whistle-blower's" identity is protected from release and an investigation is conducted pursuant to the statutory time limits.
The Investigations Section, under the direction of the Chief of Investigations, is comprised of headquarters staff designated as an Operations Center and four field offices (North, Central, South, and Suncoast). There is a supervisor for each field office as well as the Intake Unit. There are a total of four regional investigations supervisors and nine regional investigators statewide.
Inspectors are not police officers, and their investigations consist of administrative inquiries only. Florida law provides that, except for confidential information, all investigative reports are public record. During an investigation, an Inspector may interview you. You will be required to answer all questions truthfully and fully, and if you are an employee of the Department, refusal may result in disciplinary action. You may have a union representative or attorney present with you during the interview up until such time as confidential information is discussed. Findings and recommendations are reported to the Secretary, Assistance Secretary and Circuit Administrator.
The Chief of Investigations and the Intake Unit Supervisor review all allegations and assign them to the appropriate field office for investigation or to management for review. The Intake Unit reviews all correspondence, tracks, files, and disseminates information.
An annual report is required by section 20.055(7), Florida Statutes, and summarizes the activities of the OIG from July 1 to June 30 each fiscal year. Each section under the IG (Investigations, Internal and Single Audit, and Appeal Hearings provides a summary of the last fiscal year's activities and highlights any significant investigations or projects.