Chain of Command:
Many requests for assistance are best handled within the chain of command and should be referred to it for action. It is appropriate to request notification of the action taken. Be alert for systemic problems that would best be addressed through an IG investigation or inspection.
The events and circumstances listed below are best handled through offices and organizations other than the Inspector’s Office:
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has authority to investigate allegations that Department of the Navy (DON) civilian or military personnel have committed major crimes. SECNAVINST 5430.107 defines this as any offense punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), or similarly framed federal, state, local, or foreign statutes, by confinement for a term of more than one year (such crimes often are referred to as felonies). Although Inspector General (IG) organizations often investigate standards of conduct violations, many of the standards are derived from Federal felony statutes (see, for example, Office of Government Ethics Regulations at 5 CFR 2635.401 through 503 for a discussion of conflicts of interest based on a criminal statute, 18 USC 208, and conflicts based on agency regulations). In those cases, NCIS should be apprised of the allegations before the IG investigation proceeds. When NCIS has reason to believe the United States Attorney will not prosecute a case, it may decline jurisdiction in order to permit an IG investigation to proceed. When a matter appropriate for an IG investigation must be referred to NCIS for investigation pursuant to SECNAVINST 5430.107, the IG organization should log the case into its tracking system and monitor the progress of the NCIS investigation. Should the NCIS investigation fail to establish a basis for criminal prosecution, NCIS may return the action to the IG organization for such further investigation as may be necessary to permit the responsible authority to determine whether non-criminal (judicial or administrative) action is appropriate.
Crimes Committed by Military Personnel:
A request for an IG inquiry may arrive in the form of a complaint alleging that a military member has committed an offense punishable under the UCMJ. When such cases indicate the commission of a major crime within the jurisdiction of NCIS, they must be presented the information as described above. Whenever NCIS declines to investigate the matter, the IG organization should next consider referring the allegation to the alleged violator's commander for action. See Rules for courts-martial 303 and 306. A referral is appropriate when the allegation is not one that would normally be the subject of an IG investigation. When a matter appropriate for an IG investigation could constitute an offense punishable under the UCMJ, close coordination with the convening authority is necessary to ensure the IG investigation does not interfere with any potential or actual judicial action.
Military and civilian personnel often seek IG assistance when faced with adverse action for which another more specific remedy or means of redress is available. For example, many adverse personnel actions taken against civilian employees are able to be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or subject to resolution through agency grievance procedures. Non-judicial punishment and court-martial actions under the UCMJ are subject to the appellate process within the military judicial system. Other individual complaints of wrong by military personnel may be handled through Article 138, UCMJ or Article 1150, U.S. Navy Regulations procedures. In such cases, the complainant should be referred to the appropriate authority to resolve the matter. The IG system is not the "court of first resort" for most matters.
Correction of Fitness Report:
The Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) is the appropriate authority to review allegations of improper fitness reports and other requests for correction of records. MCO P1610.7
Redress of Wrongs:
The fact that an individual believes he or she has been wronged by "the system" is not itself sufficient to justify an IG investigation. IGs are not a substitute for the chain of command and other dispute resolution mechanisms, and should not be used for that purpose unless there is evidence those systems are being misused or are malfunctioning. Complaints from individuals seeking relief from adverse personnel or disciplinary actions, unfavorable findings in EO/EEO investigations, or other matters for which the chain of command provides a review mechanism, should be accepted for IG investigation only when coupled with a non-frivolous allegation that the chain of command is unable or unwilling to address the matter fairly and impartially.