8 January 2019 --
Your wing Inspector General (IG) plays a vital role ensuring the readiness, discipline, and efficiency of every aspect of your Air Force mission. It is a big job, requiring a global team of dedicated professionals, but your IG cannot do it alone. In fact, the IG’s greatest asset is YOU. Your insight into daily operations equips the IG with the information necessary to take action where needed. It may not always be easy to report matters to the IG, and some are reluctant to engage. As a result, we believe it is vital to maintain a robust process for PROTECTING YOU.
What are YOUR protections?
Your first protection is found in IG policy. The IG takes your privacy very seriously with policy to protect your identity and information to the greatest extent possible. You decide to either provide your information or report anonymously to the IG. While your rights to information and involvement change by anonymously coming forward, this approach offers a way to provide the IG with vital information while fully protecting your identity. On the other hand, if you do offer your personal information, the IG only provides your information to individuals with a need to know and tirelessly works to protect your privacy throughout the process.
Your second protection is found in the law. Individuals cannot take—or threaten to take—a personnel action against YOU for their believed or actual communication with, among others, your IG, chain of command, or Congress. This is called REPRISAL, and it is protected against under 10 USC § 1034. Unfavorable personnel actions include administrative paperwork, significant changes to work duties, failure to respond to retaliatory action or harassment, or conducting retaliatory investigations in response to a member’s communication with the IG. Leaders also cannot withhold favorable personnel actions in response to an individual’s communication with the IG. Not only is this wrong, it may be a crime.
In addition, individuals CANNOT RESTRICT Airmen from speaking with the IG or Congress per 10 USC § 1034. Restriction may come in the form of direct threats, orders, organizational policy, or simple statements that would lead a reasonable person to believe they are prevented from speaking with the IG. The IG office should be easily accessible to all Airmen. Those who make it difficult—or impossible—to report matters may also be committing a crime.
Why does this matter?
Because the IG’s greatest asset is YOU. You provide the information necessary to ensure our Air Force’s leaders and processes remain effective, efficient, and ready for war. Airmen are encouraged to take their issues to their chain of command, allowing unit leaders to quickly fix problems at their level. However, this may not always work, and it may seem difficult to take matters outside the unit. You simply don’t want to be “that person,” or—even worse—you fear reprisal for going outside the chain of command or feel restricted from doing so. The bottom line is reporting often requires considerable courage. Just remember: you have the RIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY to bring up your concerns, the Air Force needs you to do so, and there are PROTECTIONS in place for those who come forward to the IG. Thank you for your service every day for our Nation!