Inspectors general are responsible for the direct oversight of a given federal, state, county, or city agency. They aim to stop corruption and hold its agency accountable through leading investigations that evaluate claims or instances of wrongdoing in the agency.

Inspectors general are present at multiple levels of government in Illinois, including state, county, and local bodies. They serve as independent watchdogs that investigate the wrongdoings of agencies. This BGA OpenGov guide to inspectors general looks into the goals and jurisdiction of each inspector general office and identifies the appropriate office to submit various claims of governmental wrongdoing. 

Federal Inspectors General

There is not one single inspector general for the federal government. Instead, most federal agencies have their own respective inspector general. A more detailed list provided by the Congressional Research Service can be found here

State Inspectors General

Illinois has five independent offices of the Executive Inspector General that aim to promote accountability and integrity in the administrative branch of the state government. The Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Treasurer each are responsible for appointing their specific executive inspector general and are meant to select their IG solely based on “integrity and demonstrated ability,” regardless of political affiliations.

The Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor (OEIG) has jurisdiction over and the power to investigate the governor, the lieutenant governor, and other all state executive offices/agencies and personnel that are not under the jurisdiction of the attorney general, the secretary of state, the comptroller, and the treasurer. Executive agencies include administrative departments such as Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As of 2011, the OEIG also has jurisdiction over the Chicago region’s transit boards: RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace.

The Office of the Executive Inspector General for the Illinois Attorney General has jurisdiction over and can investigate the Illinois Attorney General and all bodies under the authority of the Illinois Attorney General, including the Workplace Rights Bureau and the Freedom of Information Act Office.  

The Secretary of State’s Inspector General investigates potential corruption or misdeeds within the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office and has jurisdiction over all its departments, including Driver Services and Organ Donation. 

The Executive Inspector General for the Office of Illinois Comptroller is responsible for pursuing all complaints falling under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Comptroller and the bodies with which it conducts business, including the Statewide Accounting Management System. 

The Office of the Executive Inspector General for the Illinois State Treasurer is responsible for advancing ethical practices within the Illinois State Treasurer’s office and investigates all misconduct pertaining to the Illinois State Treasurer’s office and transactions that occur within the agency, including Bright Start Illinois 529 and The Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund. 

The Illinois Legislative Inspector General investigates accusations of misdeed by Illinois legislators and other personnel in the legislative branch. Further, the office also supervises ethics and sexual harassment prevention training within the Illinois legislative branch. A BGA analysis of state-level legislative oversight revealed several weaknesses in Illinois’ policies leading to gridlock and a lack of accountability. 

Cook County Inspector General

The Office of the Independent Inspector General (OIIG) aims to suppress instances of wrongdoing and investigates allegations of misconduct within the Cook County government. All employees, elected and appointed officials, and individuals conducting business with the Cook County government are within the OIIG’s jurisdiction for investigation, including the Cook County Board of Commissioners and the Circuit Court of Cook County.  

In 2019, the OIIG entered an intergovernmental agreement with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and Cook County (MWRD), which dictates that the OIIG is responsible for investigating potential issues and allegations of fraud and misconduct within the MWRD. The BGA provided an analysis recommending oversight over the MWRD before the intergovernmental agreement was reached.

City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General

In Chicago, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) strives to rid the city’s government of waste, malfeasance, fraud, and other governmental wrongdoings. 

The OIG’s jurisdiction extends to “all City employees, elected officials (the Mayor, Aldermen, the City Clerk, and the City Treasurer), appointed officials, and contractors and vendors who provide goods and services to the City.” The BGA found that the Chicago OIG’s office is among one of the strongest in the country but is limited in releasing its findings to the public.

City of Chicago Sister Agencies

The OIG can oversee sister agencies if there is an intergovernmental agreement in place, but currently the Public Buildings Commission is the only sister agency that has an intergovernmental agreement. Other sister agencies include the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, City Colleges of Chicago, and Chicago Housing Authority.

The Chicago Park District Office of Inspector General investigates claims of wrongdoing and misbehavior made by Chicago Park District employees, contractors, board members, agents, and volunteers. 

The office also oversees the agency’s compliance with the Employment Plan’s directives on hiring and additional employment practices

Further, the office directs internal audits to “assess integrity of financial reporting systems, the effectiveness of internal controls, and the efficiency of established procedures”

The Office of Inspector General for the Chicago Board of Education oversees Chicago’s public, charter, and contract schools. They examine misconduct within CPS and also have a Sexual Allegations Unit, which investigates claims of sexual impropriety by a CPS-related adult towards a CPS student.

To file a complaint with their Sexual Allegations Unit, call 833-835-5277.
To file a complaint with their Fraud Hotline, call 773-483-7283.

Other Oversight Agencies

In addition to supervising forces within the government, there are other, non-governmental oversight agencies active in Chicago as well. Most aim to increase accountability within the government and bolster civilian oversight. 

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) strives for greater police accountability by overseeing investigations surrounding police misconduct and unethical practices. COPA takes allegations from residents and individual police officers that fall within their jurisdiction, which is classified as “bias-based verbal abuse, coercion, death or serious bodily injury in custody, domestic violence, excessive force, improper search and seizure, firearm discharge, sexual misconduct, taser discharge that results in death or serious bodily injury, pattern or practices of misconduct, unlawful denial or access to counsel.”

The Chicago Commission On Human Relations (CCHR) strives to uphold and investigate violations of the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance and the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance. Their jurisdiction extends to instances that defy the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance and the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance, including discrimination complaints. 

The Board of Ethics (BoE) regulates Chicago’s Governmental Ethics and Campaign Financing Ordinances to guarantee that Chicago employees and officials are not involved in conflicts of interest. Their jurisdiction extends to establishing and monitoring ethical transparency practices within the city of Chicago, including regulating campaign financing and conflicts of interest disclosures.

Izzy Oberman is the BGA’s Audience Engagement and Policy Intern. She previously worked on Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign for Illinois Secretary of State as a fundraising intern. A Chicago native, Izzy...