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What is the difference between a Commander-Directed and Inspector General Investigation?

MADISON, Wis. -- There can be confusion when a complaint or concern surfaces as to what is the best route to investigate an issue. I found a good synopsis for explaining the difference between the two different investigations in the 2009 Summer Issue of TIG Brief.

A commander-directed investigation or inquiry (CDI) is just that: directed by the commander and conducted by the commander investigating officer (IO) appointed by the commander. IG investigations are conducted by an IG, or an appointed IO, when determined by a complaint analysis, in accordance with AFI 90-301, Inspector General Complaints, that the complainant's allegations warrant investigation.

A commander may refer an issue to the IG for resolution, but commanders do not have the authority, according to AFI 90-301, to take a complaint submitted to an IG for disposition and transfer it to command channels for resolution by a CDI. However, a commander may, investigate almost any issue except those specifically exempted by law. For example, AFI 90-301 states that only IGs can investigate reprisal, restriction and improper mental health referral complaints. Also, complainants may elect to withdraw a complaint from IG channels and then file through command channels for resolution, if the issue does not deal with reprisal, restriction or an improper mental health referral. When a complainant presents an IG with a complaint, the IG should conduct an analysis to determine if the complaint is addressable under lG Complaint System.

If the IG, IAW AFI 90-301, determines there is a more appropriate grievance channel, the IG may refer the complaint to that office, to include issues that are better resolved in command channels. Other avenues of resolution for the IG include assistance, transfer to another IG, or dismissal. However, some issues can only be resolved through an IG investigation. IG investigations are performed to address complaints by checking records and correspondence, reviewing applicable instructions, examining material evidence; and, if necessary, interviewing the complainant, subjects and persons having direct knowledge of the matter. If the complaint can be quickly resolved through normal staff functions, the IG may elect to conduct the investigation. However, if the complaint and allegations are more complex, the IG should appoint an IO to conduct the investigation.

While an investigation may be determined to be necessary, many issues can be resolved at the lowest possible level using command channels before addressing them to a higher level or the IG. Immediate supervisory command chain can often resolve complaints more quickly and effectively than a higher level not familiar with the situation.
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