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What does the IG cover?

Posted 10/27/2011   Updated 10/27/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Rae Perry
4 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/27/2011 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- When Airmen hear the letters, I and G put together they start to get nervous, but those two little letters that stand for Inspector General are not as scary as they seem.

The IG is here to help commanders keep Airmen focused on providing Strike Eagle air power, on target, on time for America.

"I was selected by Col. Patrick Doherty, 4th Fighter Wing commander, to fill the role of Inspector General," said Lt. Col. John-Louis Howell, 4th Fighter Wing Inspector General. "I am his eyes and ears. I alert him to issues affecting the wing's organizations and work to independently evaluate any problems."

The IG was stood up after the approval of the military's Whistleblower Protection Act (10 USC. Sec 1034) in 1989. The act prohibits interference with a military member's right to make protected communications to members of congress, the Inspector General, members of the Department of Defense (DoD) audit, inspection, investigation or law enforcement organizations.
The two-person office is responsible for helping DoD employees with two main aspects of the military's Whistleblower Protection Act: restriction and reprisal.

"A restriction occurs when an individual is told by their chain [of command] that they cannot contact the IG or their congressman for assistance," said Mike Lugo, 4 FW/IG investigations specialist.
A reprisal is when an unfavorable action is taken towards a person or their well-being is threatened for attempting to contact the IG or their congressman.

"An example of reprisal is receiving a downgraded Enlisted Performance Report score for trying to contact someone in your chain of command, the IG or your congressman to report a violation of a law, regulation or instruction," said Lugo.

The IG is also responsible for assisting with improper mental health evaluation referrals (IMHR). The IG has seen an influx within the Air Force of IMHE, as mid-level supervisors attempt to help subordinates by suggesting they contact Mental Health for assistance. A IMHE can only be directed by an Airman's respective squadron commander.

The roles of the IG do not stop there. Howell and Lugo also oversee the Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) program as well as any Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SOD) cases.

"The FWA program is even more important now during times of diminishing budgets," said Howell. "We must ensure that we fully utilize all the resources available to us."

In the semi-annual FWA program report, approximately $730 million was recovered in the form of unused or abused assets from active duty servicemembers, mainly in deployed locations.

Among all other tasks the IG office also deals with issues concerning the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"It seems that everyone in the Wing understands this policy," said Howell. "Because to date, we have not received any notification of any issues."

The IG's office is open from 7:30 am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday and can be contacted at (919)722-0611 or (919)722-0612 to set up an appointment. Airmen should be especially vigilant and report any instances of FWA, SOD, IMHE or anything pertaining to the Whistleblowers Act they observe while deployed to the servicing IG or the DOD hotline at 1-877-363-3348.

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