Why the Inspector General?

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- With the Air Force's high-ops tempo, compliance is paramount. In the Inspector General activity, arguably, the best known program we have is the compliance inspection, while a much less understood one is the IG Complaints Resolution Program. What's important to know is both serve critical roles to ensure the economy and efficiency of the Air Force.

The concept of appointing a separate full-time installation IG for complaint resolution was implemented to remove any perceived conflict of interest, lack of independence, or apprehension by Air Force personnel and was identified in Committee Report H.R. 4301 of the 1995 national Defense Authorization Act.

To sustain a trustworthy relationship with AF personnel, installation IGs act independently.

Air Force personnel must be free from any form of retribution, retaliation, or reprisal for communicating with the installation IG. The 31st Fighter Wing inspector general office derives it's authority from Air Force Instruction 90-301, Inspector General Complaints Resolution, and Brig. Gen. Craig Franklin, the 31st FW commander.

By AFI, the IG staff serves as an extension of the wing commander by acting as his or her 'eyes and ears' to be alert to issues that affect the wing.

We do this by executing the complaint resolution process and by proactively training all members of the wing about IG processes and Fraud, Waste, and Abuse issues. A successful complaint resolution program is designed to enhance the organization's discipline, readiness, and war fighting capability. We use fact-finding methodologies to seek out systemic issues that affect the wing's mission.

Here at Aviano Air Base, Italy, we assist active-duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen of all ranks, family members, civilian employees, retirees, and other civilians (including local nationals). These individuals represent the IG's constituency, and IGs bolster the chain of command by performing a problem-solving mission in support of this constituency. We are sworn to serve as fair, impartial and objective fact-finders

What is the scope of complaints IGs resolve?

The IG complaints resolution program is not normally used for matters addressed through other established grievance or appeal channels, unless there is evidence that those channels mishandled the matter or process. Other established grievance channels include, but are not limited to: chain of command, Equal Opportunity Program, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Defense Counsel, Surgeon General, etc... Chapter one of AFI 90-301 is a great resource to determine what, when, and how to use your installation IG. It outlines your rights and responsibilities, and provides policy and procedures for filing a complaint.

Of primary interest to all IGs however, is resolving allegations of reprisal, restriction, and improper mental health evaluation referrals. Installation IGs will always retain responsibility to resolve these allegations. The following definitions are helpful in understanding reprisal and restriction.

Reprisal
Taking or threatening to take an unfavorable personnel action or withholding or threatening to withhold a favorable personnel action on a member for making or preparing to make a protected communication.

Protected Communication
Any lawful communication to a member of Congress or an IG, or a communication in which a member communicates information that the member reasonably believes evidences a violation of law or regulation. This applies when such communication is made to any of the following: a member of Congress or a member of their staff, an IG or a member of the IG's staff, any person in the member's chain of command, or the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, command chiefs, and first sergeants.

Personnel Action
Any action taken against a member, such as a threat, that affects or has the potential to affect a member's current position or career. Such actions include, but are not limited to: a promotion, a demotion, a disciplinary or other corrective action, a transfer or reassignment, a performance evaluation, a decision on pay, benefits, awards or training, or any other significant change in duties or responsibilities inconsistent with the military member's rank.

Restriction
Preventing or attempting to prevent members from making or preparing lawful communications to a member of Congress and/or an IG.

Lawful Communication
Any communication, whether verbal or written or otherwise transmitted, including complaints, witness statements, and testimony, which is not otherwise knowingly false; discloses classified, privileged, or private information; threatening or disrespectful.

Bottom line, while the IG is not a substitute for your chain of command, the Air Force IG system is based on checks and balances and will ensure proper resolution for all members.

If you have an issue that is not/cannot be resolved thru normal channels, feel free to call the IG office at any time. For more information, call the 31st FW IG office at 632-5662/5643 or 0434-30-5662/5643.