Inspectors General in Illinois
What does an inspector general do?
Inspectors general serve an important function in many areas of state and local government in Illinois, investigating allegations of fraud, corruption, waste, abuse, and misconduct in an effort to promote transparency and efficiency in government. Illinois’ state government has several inspectors general, and others work for the Cook County, the City of Chicago, and various local agencies. 1
Under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430), Illinois’ state government has separate inspectors general that provide oversight in these important state offices: 2
2. Attorney General
4. Secretary of State
Additional oversight of state government is provided by the auditor general’s office, which has its own inspector general to review complaints inside that agency. There is also a legislative inspector general conducting oversight of the General Assembly.
2 5 ILCS 430, State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.
How is an inspector general appointed?
The heads of five key areas of state government — governor, attorney general, comptroller, secretary of state, and treasurer — appoint inspectors general for the aspects of government under their responsibility.1
The auditor general names the inspector general for that office. The legislative inspector general is recommended by the Legislative Ethics Commission and approved by the General Assembly. The Cook County Board appoints its inspector general, and Chicago’s mayor appoints the city’s inspector general, with approval by the City Council.
How many inspector general offices are there in Illinois?
Illinois has easily more than a dozen inspectors general, at all levels of government. While some IGs may be appointed to oversee an entire governmental branch, others are appointed only for specific agencies,1 such as Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the Department of Children and Family Services.2
At the local level, offices exist not only for Cook County and the City of Chicago, but also for multiple local agencies and school districts such as the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Housing Authority, and Chicago Park District.
Why are all inspector general offices different?
Inspectors general offices differ in the size, form, and the scope of their power. This is because they may have been formed by different legislation and they investigate government operations of various sizes and missions.
For instance, the inspector general for the governor’s office has jurisdiction over more than 170,000 state employees, appointees, and officials, including: “The Governor; the Lieutenant Governor; more than 300 executive branch State agencies, departments, boards, and commissions; the nine State public universities across a dozen campuses; the four Chicago-area Regional Transit Boards (the Regional Transportation Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace); and vendors and contractors of any of those entities.”1
By contrast, the Illinois attorney general’s inspector general has jurisdiction over about 800 employees and relatively fewer programs and services2 .
1 Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor, Annual Report 2017. Also see, Inspectors General and Government Corruption, A Guide to Best Practices and an Assessment of Five Illinois Offices, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, (May 2011).
2Id. at 13; Also see, Salaries Database, The State Journal-Register.
Is every inspector general independent?
Generally, yes. While inspectors general are a part of the government body or agency that they are investigating, they are, by law, created as independent entities.
However, possible issues may arise when an appointing power also has the power to dismiss. For instance, the governor appoints and also can fire his or her own inspector general, and some public integrity advocates worry that this arrangement could deter the inspector general from launching an investigation that might implicate the governor.1
Who keeps an inspector general accountable?
In the same way that the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act requires an inspector general to be assigned to each major statewide office to keep them accountable and monitor for any fraudulent activity, the Act mandates a similar check on the inspector general. This is done by the Executive Ethics Commission.
The Executive Ethics Commission can launch such an investigation on its own initiative into any state inspector general’s office. Furthermore, it can assign a “special executive inspector general” to investigate the inspector general.1
1 (5 ILCS 430/20-21) Sec. 20-21. Special Executive Inspectors General.
Why are inspectors general important?
Inspectors general are in a unique position to investigate and uncover public corruption.1
While other law enforcement agencies such as the state’s attorney’s office or the attorney general’s office have broad jurisdiction to conduct investigations, they are not focused on one particular government unit and may only launch an investigation at their own discretion. An IG’s office, on the other hand, is focused on the governmental unit it is a part of and likely has fewer conflicts about allocating resources to pursue a case.2
Additionally, inspector generals have greater access to the governmental units they are a part of than outside agencies would, and can also obtain relevant information with comparative ease. This is because they have the authority to request internal records and information from the government entity they are a part of and, in turn, employees generally have the statutory duty to comply with those requests.3
Can I report a matter to an inspectors general office?
Yes, the public can submit complaints of alleged fraud and corruption to inspectors general offices.
Each office has its own procedures for following through with complaints and decides on its own whether to conduct an investigation.1 For instance, the Illinois attorney general’s inspector general “encourages” individuals to contact the office with “information regarding waste, fraud, corruption, and abuse.”2 It also notes that complaints may be made anonymously and that the names of complainants are kept confidential “unless otherwise required by law.”3
The governor’s inspector general notes that complaints to that office should be made “whenever you have a reasonable belief of or witness a wrongful act or omission on the part of an employee” of that office.4
The websites for some government units have an online complaint form for people alleging wrongdoing, while others require complaints to be mailed. Complaint hotlines are also available for some governmental entities such as Cook County government. 5
The procedures for filing a complaint to the major statewide offices can be found by clicking here:
The procedure for filing a complaint to the City of Chicago’s inspector general can be found here.
The procedure for filing a complaint to the Cook County inspector general can be found here.
1 Office of the Inspector General, City of Chicago, Frequently Asked Questions,
2 Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Office of the Inspector General, Complaint Procedures.
3 Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Office of the Inspector General, Complaint Procedures.
4 Office of Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor, Frequently Asked Questions.
5 Cook County government, Filing a complaint.