Office of Inspector General

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Inspector General selected and who does the Inspector General report to?

The NRO Inspector General is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

How does the Inspector General keep the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Defense, and Congress up-to-date on findings?

The Office of Inspector General publishes a semiannual report, which summarizes the OIG’s work products.

What is the difference between an audit, inspection, and investigation?

An audit and inspection are proactive reviews of topics and offices. An audit is usually topical (such as an acquisition process) and the topic is reviewed — in depth — across the entire agency. An inspection reviews many topics within a unit or office — at a high level. An investigation is more reactive and will generally be in response to an anomaly within the agency.

Do audits and inspections ever turn up anything besides bad news?

Absolutely! Many of our reviews show that programs are working effectively, and many others show that effective programs can be made even more so with moderate changes. Directors and NRO employees welcome unbiased opinions to help them make good operations even better. For example, we conducted a case study of a NRO program that identified excellent acquisition management practices and lessons learned that could be applied to ongoing and future NRO programs.

Are audit and inspection results made public?

No. The nature of the topics the NRO OIG reviews are classified and not made available to the public.

How does the OIG choose the programs it will audit, inspect, or investigate?

Some projects are required by law. Others are requested by the NRO Director, officials of the Directorates and Offices of the NRO, or members of Congress. The OIG also sets up its own priorities through an annual work plan process. The OIG weighs such factors as developing issues, the NRO strategic goals, and management challenges, in order to produce products that are useful, relevant, and understandable to the intended audience.

On the investigation side, many OIG probes start with a referral from NRO employees, managers, or contractors. Others start when investigators within the OIG suspect a pattern of criminal behavior. Still others begin when people call the OIG Hotline, a phone line dedicated to help citizens, including government workers, "blow the whistle" on waste, fraud, or mismanagement. OIG's Hotline can be reached at 703-808-1644 or

What protections are available for whistle blowers?

There are laws that protect "whistle-blowers" from reprisals like removal or reassignment, such as the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1984, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and the IG Act(s). Federal employees and contractors are covered under these acts.

What is fraud, waste, and mismanagement?

Fraud is any knowing deception designed to unlawfully deprive the United States of something of value or to secure from the United States a benefit, privilege, allowance, or consideration to which an individual(s) is not entitled.

Waste is the extravagant, careless, or needless expenditure of government funds, or the consumption of government property that results from deficient practices, systems, controls, or decisions.

Mismanagement is managing ineffectively, incompetently, carelessly, or wrongly. Mismanagement ranges from making poor decisions to breaking rules for personal gain.

What can/can't the NRO OIG investigate?

OIG investigations identify and develop facts related to allegations of wrongdoing on the part of NRO employees and individuals or entities having contracts with or receiving benefits from the NRO. OIG investigations address administrative, civil, and criminal violations of law and regulations. The subject of an OIG investigation can be any agency employee, a NRO contractor, consultant, or a person or entity involved in alleged wrongdoing affecting NRO programs and operations.

Do NRO OIG investigators have the authority to arrest suspects?

No. OIG investigators work closely on investigations with U.S. Attorney's Offices and relevant law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who have the authority to make arrests.

May I remain anonymous when contacting the NRO OIG?

Yes. The OIG relies on concerned employees and citizens to provide us with information regarding alleged waste, fraud, and mismanagement in the NRO. We realize that you may wish to remain anonymous in submitting an allegation to us. However, your information is most useful to us if we can contact you by telephone or mail for additional information or, in some cases, if we can interview you personally. Therefore, we encourage you to identify yourself when you contact us.