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An Inspector General is a public official responsible for conducting independent oversight of the programs and operations of a federal agency. The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, requires Inspectors General to
There are 73 federal Inspectors General, each responsible for oversight of one or more agencies.
We perform independent oversight of two federal agencies: the Board and the CFPB.
We conduct audits, investigations, and other reviews to assess the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of Board and CFPB programs and operations, including their supervision of financial institutions, compliance with laws and regulations, and internal operations. We are required by Congress to perform some reviews, such as reviews of certain failed financial institutions supervised by the Board and reviews of the Board's and the CFPB's information security programs. We also oversee independent audits of the financial statements of the Board and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Our reports explain why we conducted the review, describe what issues we found, and recommend ways the agency can correct them. We do not manage agency programs or implement changes.
We investigate wrongdoing related to the agencies' programs and operations committed by agency employees, contractors, or any other person or entity. We also investigate wrongdoing that hinders the agencies' ability to supervise financial institutions within their jurisdictions—for example, a bank providing false information to regulators. Investigations may be criminal, civil, or administrative, with findings referred to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Board, or the CFPB.
The Federal Reserve System, often called the Fed, is the nation's central bank. It has three key parts:
We oversee the Board of Governors. For more information about the Federal Reserve System, see the Board's website.
We oversee the Reserve Banks' supervision of Board-regulated institutions, because the Board has delegated this function to the Reserve Banks. As a general matter, other than Board-delegated functions, we do not audit the Reserve Banks' activities. That work is conducted by the Reserve Bank general auditors.
The CFPB enforces federal consumer financial laws. Its work includes writing rules for and supervising financial companies, monitoring markets, taking consumer complaints, and promoting consumer financial education. For more information, see the CFPB’s website.
Under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, we have
The Inspector General is appointed by the Chair of the Board of Governors. All Inspectors General are appointed without regard to their political affiliation and based on their integrity and their ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.
The Inspector General reports to the Board of Governors and the Director of the CFPB and has an independent reporting responsibility to Congress. Specifically, the Inspector General must keep the Board, the CFPB, and Congress informed about any significant issues related to the administration of programs and operations of the agencies, any recommendations to address those issues, and the progress made by the agencies in implementing corrective action.
The Inspector General must also issue a semiannual report to Congress summarizing our activities every 6 months.
All OIGs are subject to congressional reporting and public scrutiny. OIGs publish reports on their public websites and issue semiannual reports to Congress. These reports provide important information about the OIG's work and the status of recommendations made by the OIG.
OIGs are also subject to peer reviews by other OIGs. Generally conducted every 3 years, peer reviews determine whether OIGs are operating in accordance with applicable professional standards. The results of all such peer reviews are made public on OIG websites and in semiannual reports to Congress.
The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) helps ensure OIG professionalism and accountability. CIGIE is an independent entity within the executive branch charged with increasing the professionalism and effectiveness of OIG personnel. The CIGIE Integrity Committee serves as an independent review and investigative mechanism for allegations of wrongdoing brought against Inspectors General and other designated OIG senior staff. For more information, see the Integrity Committee website.
The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, provides OIGs with access to all information available to the Board and the CFPB that is needed to fulfill the OIG's responsibilities. The Board and the CFPB also require all employees, contractors, grantees, and other persons carrying out functions for them to cooperate with our information requests and questions. Employees have a duty to report suspected instances of fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct, or criminal activity.
Employees or others concerned about possible wrongdoing can contact us through the OIG Hotline.
Audits are reviews of an agency's programs and operations to ensure that the agency is efficiently and effectively performing its work. Audits are objective, fact based, and performed in accordance with the U.S. Government Accountability Office's Government Auditing Standards.
We generally conduct performance audits, which provide findings and recommendations based on an assessment of sufficient, appropriate evidence against criteria like laws, regulations, contracts, or other benchmarks. Performance audits aim to improve program performance and operations, reduce costs, facilitate corrective action, and contribute to public accountability.
We also oversee independent audits of the financial statements of the Board and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The CFPB's financial statements are audited by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, as required by law.
Evaluations are systematic and independent assessments of the design, implementation, or results of an agency’s operations, programs, or policies. They often recommend improvements and identify where agency action is necessary to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Our evaluations are performed in accordance with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation.
We base our decisions on risk and focus on areas that we see as major management challenges for the Board and the CFPB. We also consider input from our agency and congressional stakeholders. We look to improve the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of Board and CFPB programs and operations. We maintain a Work Plan, updated quarterly, that describes our ongoing and planned work.
Audits and evaluations have three phases:
We report the status of our recommendations in our semiannual reports to Congress and in our open recommendations lists. We ask that each agency provide us documentation to show that it has implemented our recommendations. We may also perform an in-depth follow-up review to assess the effectiveness of their implementation.
Audit reports provide our findings and recommendations based on an assessment of sufficient, appropriate evidence against criteria like laws, regulations, contracts, or other benchmarks.
Evaluation reports summarize our systematic and independent assessments of the design, implementation, or results of agency operations, programs, or policies.
Security control reviews evaluate the effectiveness of the information security for a subset of the Board's or the CFPB's information systems, including those provided or managed by another agency, a contractor, or another organization.
IT audits review Board and CFPB IT systems as well as management and operational controls within their IT infrastructures. These audits focus on such areas as information security controls, systems development, operations, investment, and contractor support. Recommendations are aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of IT systems and protecting data. IT audits usually result in a report, but these reports may be restricted due to the sensitivity of the information they contain.
The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) requires us to perform annual independent audits of the information security program and practices of the Board and the CFPB to determine their effectiveness. FISMA also requires us to perform information security control reviews for subsets of the agencies' information systems. In addition, each year we review the Board's and the CFPB's IT systems and challenges to determine the highest risks to their mission functions, which includes a focus on information security.
We start with a brief survey of the system or IT area and assess potential risks or vulnerabilities that warrant further analysis. We then formulate an audit approach.
If the audit involves reviewing information security controls, we also determine which controls we will examine to best analyze major risks and vulnerabilities. We incorporate agency officials' formal comments in our final report.
Investigations look into possible violations of law, regulation, or policy. The results may be used for administrative action by the Board or the CFPB (for example, taking personnel action against the offender) and for criminal or civil action by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Investigations come from complaints we receive from Board and CFPB employees and contractors and, in some cases, from the general public. We also may open investigations based on information we receive from the Board or the CFPB, the U.S. Department of Justice, other agencies, or Congress.
To file a complaint, contact the OIG Hotline.
Matters we investigate include
To file a complaint, contact the OIG Hotline. We are unable to intervene in or investigate consumer complaints regarding an individual's financial institution. For these complaints, please read our information on consumer complaints against financial institutions.
Our criminal investigators and analysts conduct investigations. We operate under statutory law enforcement authority granted by the U.S. Attorney General.
Employees have a duty to promptly report actual or suspected violations of law, fraud, waste, abuse, or other wrongdoing. In addition, the Board and the CFPB require all employees to cooperate with and be responsive to our investigators' information requests and questions.
Employees must fully cooperate with us, which includes being interviewed, except in circumstances when employees assert their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. We cannot compel an employee to be interviewed, but agency management can direct the employee to be interviewed and can take disciplinary action if the employee declines. Employees who are bargaining-unit members may be permitted to have a union representative present during interviews.
We do not permit Board or CFPB attorneys to represent agency employees during interviews. Government attorneys represent the agency and are thus prohibited from personally representing individual agency employees.
Anyone may report fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement related to the programs or operations of the Board or the CFPB by contacting the OIG Hotline. Examples of the types of activities to report include
No. We cannot intervene in or investigate consumer complaints against individuals' financial institutions or other entities supervised by the Board or the CFPB. For these complaints, please read our information on consumer complaints against financial institutions.
Yes. Your contact information, though, will help us pursue your complaint, because we usually need more information. Please note that we will not disclose your identity except in rare circumstances when the Inspector General deems it unavoidable during the course of an investigation or if you provide your consent.
We will not disclose the identity of an individual who comes forward with a complaint or information, except in rare circumstances when the Inspector General deems it unavoidable during the course of an investigation or if you provide your consent.
Board and CFPB employees are also protected under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, from reprisals or retaliation for reporting a complaint or disclosing information to us. Reserve Bank employees should refer to their Reserve Bank policy. For more information, please read about whistleblower rights and protections.
We evaluate the complaint and, if appropriate, refer our findings to the Board or the CFPB for administrative action (for example, taking personnel action against the offender) or to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal or civil action. We typically do not provide status updates to complainants.
We are closely coordinating our oversight activities of the Board's pandemic response activities with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other offices of inspector general to ensure robust oversight and to efficiently deploy resources where they are most needed.
To ensure coordinated oversight and leadership of pandemic response efforts governmentwide, Inspector General Mark Bialek serves as a member of PRAC, an oversight body established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure governmentwide coordinated oversight of the federal government's COVID-19 pandemic response efforts. For more information about PRAC and its work, see the following:
The full text of the CARES Act is available here.