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In a civilian or military administration, an Inspector General is a high ranking official charged with the mission to inspect and report on some bodies in their field of competency. The plural of the term is Inspectors General.


Shoulder insignia of a police inspecteur général
In the French Civil Service, an inspector general (inspecteur général) is a member of a body of civil servants known as inspection générale, generally of a high level, charged with a nationwide mission to inspect some specific services and provide government officials with advice regarding that service. For example:
  • inspection générale des Finances (Ministry of Finances)
  • inspection générale de l'Éducation Nationale (Ministry of National Education: teaching issues)
  • inspection générale de l'administration de l'Éducation Nationale (Ministries of National Education and Research: administrative issues)
  • French National Police "internal affairs"
    • inspection générale de la Police Nationale (except Parismarker and close suburbs)
    • inspection générale des services of the Prefecture of Policemarker (Parismarker and surroundings).

The inspection générale des Finances is particularly prestigious as a job appointment after studies at the École Nationale d'Administrationmarker. In recent decades, many of its members have occupied various high positions in lieu of their traditional mission of inspection. The corps has come under increased criticism for this.


In India the Inspector General of Police or Joint Commissioner of Police is a 2 star rank officer and one of the senior most officers in the state police forces which ususally head te police force in each city. All IGP/JCP are Indian Police Service officers. They are in some states Commissioner of Police (City), that is they head a police force for a particular city and are awarded the tile of Commissioner of Police (City). The rank insignia of a Inspector General of Police or Joint Commissioner of Police is one star above crossed wword and baton.


The office (General Inspector of the Armed Forces) also existed in the Second Polish Republicmarker and was held, among others, by Józef Piłsudski.


In Romaniamarker, Inspector General is the title given to the head of the Romanian Police, Romanian Border Police, Romanian Gendarmerie and the Romanian General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (whose central commands are called General Inspectorates).

United Kingdom


In the Britishmarker tradition, an Inspector-General is usually a senior military officer responsible for the inspection of military units to ensure that they meet appropriate standards of training and efficiency. Unlike American inspectors general, they do not usually have an investigative or law enforcement function.

For many years the Royal Air Force maintained a post of Inspector-General.


The commanding officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary (and later of the Royal Ulster Constabulary until replaced by Chief Constable) and many colonial police forces also bore the title of Inspector General of Police and it is still used in Indiamarker and some other former British territories.

The Inspector General is also the name given to the Chief Executive Officer of the Insolvency Service.

Inspector and variants of it are rank titles of officers in the police of Britain and most Commonwealth countries.

United States

In the United Statesmarker, an Inspector General (IG) is a type of investigator charged with examining the actions of a government agency, military organization, or military contractor as a general auditor of their operations to ensure they are operating in compliance with general established policies of the government, to audit the effectiveness of security procedures, or to discover the possibility of misconduct, waste, fraud, theft, or certain types of criminal activity by individuals or groups related to the agency's operation, usually involving some misuse of the organization's funds or credit. In the United States, there exist numerous Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) at the federal, state, and local levels.

Federal Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs)

John Glenn

Federally, there exist 69 different and autonomous OIGs, a significant increase since the statutory creation of the initial 12 OIGs by the IG Act of 1978, legislation heavily influenced and recently celebrated by John Glenn.

The federal OIGs collectively employ criminal investigators (also known as "special agents") and auditors. In addition, federal OIGs employ forensic auditors, or "Audigators," evaluators, inspectors, administrative investigators, and a variety of other specialists. Their activities include the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of the government programs and operations within their parent organizations. OIG Investigations may be internal, targeting government employees, or external, targeting grant recipients, contractors, or recipients of the various loans and subsidies offered through the thousands of federal domestic and foreign assistance programs.

While all of the federal OIGs operate separate of one another, they share information and some coordination through the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency ( ECIE), as created or amended in 1992 by Executive Order 12805. As of 2005, the PCIE comprises 30 OIGs, whose Inspectors General (IG's), the heads of the OIGs, are Presidentially-appointed and confirmed by the Senate. For example, the Inspector General of the U.S.marker Department of Housing and Urban Developmentmarker is a PCIE OIG. The ECIE comprises the remaining OIGs, whose IG's are appointed by their respective agency heads. For example, the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General is an ECIE OIG. PCIE IGs can only be removed, or terminated, from their positions by the President of the United States, whereas ECIE IGs can be terminated by the agency head. However, in both cases the Congress must be notified of the termination/removal/reassignment.

PCIE logo.
addition to their IG members, both the PCIE and ECIE include non-IG posts, representatives from the federal executive branch, such as executives from the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Government Ethics, the Office of Special Counsel, and the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker (FBI). The PCIE has seven committees: Audit, Human Resources, Information Technology, Inspection and Evaluation, Investigations, Integrity, and Legislation, as well as several related organizations. The ECIE is represented on each of the committees. The PCIE and ECIE also provide specialized training to the IG community. While the IG Act of 1978 requires that IGs be selected based upon their qualifications and not political affiliation, PCIE IGs are considered political appointees and are often selected, if only in part and in addition to their qualifications, because of their political relationships and party affiliation. An example of the role political affiliation plays in the selection of an IG, and the resulting pitfalls, can be seen in the 2001 Republican appointment (and resignation under fire) of Janet Rehnquist (daughter of conservative U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker Chief Justice, William Rehnquist) to the post of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Evidence of the coordination between federal OIGs can be seen by the public through the OIGs' shared website,, and the use of shared training facilities and resources, such as the IG Criminal Investigator Academy (IGCIA) and their Inspector General Community Auditor Training Team (IGCATS). Evidence of the OIGs' return on investment to taxpayers can be seen through their Semi-annual Reports to Congress (SARC), most of which are available on each OIG's website.

Since the post-9/11 enactment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, resulting in the amendment of the IG Act of 1978, Section 6e, most PCIE OIG special agents have had full law enforcement authority to carry firearms, make arrests, and execute search warrants. Prior to this time, most PCIE and some ECIE IG special agents had the equivalent law enforcement authorities as a result of other statutes or annually-required deputation by the U.S. Marshals Service. The 2002 amendment to the Act of 1978 made most deputation of PCIE IG special agents no longer necessary. Some ECIE IG special agents still have full law enforcement authority today by virtue of this continued deputation. Some OIGs employ no criminal investigators and rely solely on administrative investigators, auditors, and inspectors.

U.S. Offices of Inspector General

Presidentially Appointed Inspectors General

Designated Federal Entity Inspectors General
  • National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
  • Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC-OIG)
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC-OIG)
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC-OIG)
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPD-OIG)
  • Denali Commission, The
  • Election Assistance Commission (EAC-OIG)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC-OIG)
  • Farm Credit Administration (FCA-OIG)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC-OIG)
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC-OIG)
  • Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB-OIG)
  • Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA-OIG)
  • Federal Maritime Commission (FMC-OIG)
  • Federal Reserve Board (FRB-OIG)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC-OIG)
  • International Trade Commission, U.S. (USITC-OIG)
  • Legal Services Corporation (LSC-OIG)
  • National Archives and Records Administrationmarker
  • National Credit Union Administration (NCUA-OIG)
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA-OIG)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH-OIG)
  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB-OIG)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF-OIG)
  • Peace Corps
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC-OIG)
  • Postal Rate Commission (formerly Postal Regulatory Commission) (PRC-OIG)
  • Postal Service, U.S. (USPS-OIG)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC-OIG)
  • Smithsonian Institution

Special Inspectors General
  • Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) - appointed by President
  • Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction - appointed by Secretary of Defense in consultation with Secretary of State
  • Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) - appointed by President with Senate confirmation

Legislative Agency Inspectors General

Other Federal Inspectors General

U.S. Military

Within the United States Armed Forces, the position of Inspector General is normally part of the personal staff serving a general or flag officer in a command position. The Inspector General's office functions in two ways. To a certain degree they are ombudsmen for their branch of service. However, their primary function is to insure the combat readiness of subordinate units in their command. A visit by an Inspector General (who usually is a field grade officer assisted by experienced company grade and warrant officers, senior noncommissioned officers and experienced civilian employees) will often cause anxiety among the leaders and members of the unit being visited, no matter how ready their unit is for the IG visit.

An armed services inspector general may also investigate noncriminal allegations, to include determining if the matter should be referred for criminal investigation by the service's criminal investigative agency.

The Air Force Inspector General (IG) Complaints Program, described in the Airman's Guide by Boone Nicolls, was established to address the concerns of Air Force active duty, reserve, and Guard members, civilian employees, family members, and retirees, as well as the interest of the Air Force. One of the first responsibilities of the Air Force IG is to operate a credible complaints program that investigates personnel complaints: Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FWA) allegations; congressional inquiries; and issues involving the Air Force mission. Personnel complaints and FWA disclosures to the IG help commanders correct problems that affect the productivity, mission accomplishment, and morale of assigned personnel, which are areas of high concern to Air Force leaders at all levels.


During World War II, Colonel General Heinz Guderian was appointed Inspector-General of Armoured Troops on 1 March 1943, reporting directly to Adolf Hitler.

Since the reestablishment of the German armed forces after World War II, the Inspector-General of the Federal Armed Forces (Generalinspekteur der Bundeswehr) is the highest-ranking soldier, responsible for the overall military planning and the principal military advisor of the Federal Minister of Defense and the Federal Government. Head of the Command Staff of the Armed Forces (Führungsstab der Streitkräfte), his position is broadly equivalent to that of the American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the German federal police (Bundespolizei), the highest-ranking police officer is called inspector of the federal police as well, although this position is a more coordinating than commanding one. For all state alert police services there also exists an inspector (Inspekteur der Bereitschaftspolizeien der Länder). Even every of the sixteen german state police departements has an inspector, as the highest-ranking police-officer. The state-police presidents are normally no police officers. They are administration officials. The competence for police services in Germany is assigned to the federal states of germany. The federal police is an coordinating police departement with only a few competences, e.g. in border control or airport and trail security.In the scope of responsibility of the state police departements the federal police can only act with permisson or request of the local state police.

See also


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