Under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, each of the Presidentially-appointed, Senate confirmed Inspectors General has the right to obtain his or her own independent legal counsel in order to preserve the IG’s independence and avoid possible conflicts of interest in conducting Inspector General audits, evaluations, investigations, and other reviews.
Accordingly, the Office of Legal & Legislative Affairs serves that role by providing advice and guidance to the Inspector General on all legal and regulatory matters related to both specific functions of a Federal Inspector General and general personnel, administrative, and policy issues related to the operation of a Federal agency.
In addition, it provides legal guidance and support to the component offices within the Office of the Inspector General, including support on Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, audit and evaluation guidelines, procurement, and guidance on the functions of and programs administered by OPM. They work with OPM’s Office of the General Counsel on various matters and coordinate with the U.S. Department of Justice on both criminal and civil matters.
The Office of Legal & Legislative Affairs also actively interacts with Congress on behalf of the OIG. In addition to the requirement that Federal Inspectors General submit Semiannual Reports to Congress, they also have a responsibility to recommend policies that would reduce fraud, waste, and abuse and to inform both the agency head and Congress of serious problems or abuses within the agency’s programs. The Office of Legal & Legislative Affairs assists the OIG in performing these duties by working with Congress and OPM to promote legislative proposals that will further our office’s efforts to combat fraud, waste, and abuse.
The Office of Legal & Legislative Affairs also has the debarring official responsibility for the Administrative Sanctions and Debarment function for the OIG. Pursuant to the Federal Employees Health Care Protection Act of 1998 (5 USC § 8902a), the Administrative Sanctions Group suspends and debars from participation in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) health care providers who have committed various violations, including: (1) loss of professional licensure; (2) conviction of a crime related to delivery of or payment for health care services; (3) submission of false or fraudulent claims, or (4) debarment by another Federal agency. These sanctions are intended to protect the integrity of the FEHBP as well as the health care interests of FEHBP enrollees.