June 21, 2012

Understanding Inspector General inspections

By Capt. Marty Bishop
Deputy Inspector General

The Inspector General Office has a duty to provide its commanding general information concerning how units are functioning in regards to assorted responsibilities. IG inspections are usually conducted to provide this key officer a means of insight of how his units are performing with a given task.

IG inspections are not intended to harass or belittle units. IG actions, to include inspection results, cannot be used as the basis for adverse action. Their primary purpose is to assess units’ performance through identifying findings, observations and good news stories.

Findings and observations are collected through an inspection of all units, but neither units nor individuals are specifically identified in the reports. For example, terms such as “‘most, some, few’ units have not identified and trained their voting assistance officer” are used in a post-inspection report. By discussing findings and observations using terms such as “most, some and few,” unit and individual identifying information is protected, and confidentiality is maintained.

The IG office not only identifies unit shortcomings using findings and observations, but also identifies the “root cause” using the root-cause-analysis model. This model identifies underlying reasons why findings and observations exist, such as the aforementioned example of “few units have not identified and trained their voting assistance officer.”

The model has three possible reasons why a finding occurred; “don’t know, can’t comply or won’t comply.” A given unit either doesn’t know about the standard (the need for having an identified and trained voting assistance officer), the unit can’t comply with the standard, or the unit knows about the standard but isn’t interested in adhering to it.

Once the root cause or causes are identified, the IG office completes findings and observations with actionable recommendations. The IG office doesn’t stop with identifying unit shortcomings without offering solutions. Back to finishing the example: “Recommend all units ensure they identify and train voting assistance officers in accordance with the standard stated in Army Regulation 608-20, paragraph 2-14a.”

IG inspections also have other effects which include forcing mechanisms to go into operation. If a unit knows in advance the IG, or anybody else for that matter, is going to conduct an inspection on a given subject, they will prepare for it. In preparing for it, units typically brush up on regulatory standards and often adjust their actions to ensure they are operating within those standards. Units will review unit personnel appointment orders and ensure they have a voting assistance officer on orders and that he or she is trained in conducting their duties.

When finishing up an IG inspection, the IG office compiles all findings, observations and good news stories into the final Inspection report. Once the report is completed, it goes to the commanding general for review. Once he or she is briefed and has reviewed the report, it is then distributed to all units. Commanders and units review final inspection reports to see how all units fared in the inspection and review recommendations. They also implement recommendations in order to improve their own units for the future.

For more information about IG inspections, call the IG Office, 533.1144.

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