Public Accountability Report Public Accountability Report

Office of Executive Inspector General
(Appropriated Spending in Thousands)
  FY 2021 FY 2020
Reporting Programs Expenditures Headcount Expenditures Headcount
General Investigations $ 5,266.3 51.0 $ 4,948.8 45.0
Regional Transit Board Division $ 934.1 5.0 $ 1,030.3 7.0
Hiring and Employment Monitoring (HEM) $ 627.5 9.0 $ 591.8 9.0
External Compliance and Outreach $ 258.4 3.0 $ 241.2 3.0
Totals $ 7,086.3 68.0 $ 6,812.1 64.0

Amounts may not sum to total due to rounding.

Agency Narrative

Pursuant to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (Ethics Act), the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor (OEIG) is an independent state agency that investigates allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, misconduct, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, and violations of the Ethics Act and related laws or rules by entities under its jurisdiction. The OEIG’s primary functions are investigations, revolving-door determinations, ethics and harassment prevention training, and hiring and employment monitoring.

The OEIG’s jurisdiction includes the Governor; the Lieutenant Governor; more than 300 executive branch state agencies, departments, and boards; the nine state public universities; and the four regional transit boards (the Regional Transportation Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace), comprising more than 170,000 public employees, appointees, and officials.

Investigations

Within 30 days of receipt, each complaint must be evaluated to determine whether there will be an investigation, referral of the matter to another agency, or a declination of the matter. Upon conclusion of an investigation and a finding of misconduct, the OEIG provides a copy of its Final Summary Report to the affected state agency and the appropriate ultimate jurisdictional authority, such as the Governor or the board of trustees of a public university. When the OEIG makes a finding of misconduct, it may recommend employee discipline or termination or other remedial action.

Public disclosure of OEIG Final Summary Reports is subject to the authority of the Executive Ethics Commission (EEC). The EEC’s public disclosure of an OEIG report is mandated in instances in which an employee is terminated or receives a suspension of three days or more. The EEC has discretion to release an OEIG report when misconduct is found but does not result in an employee’s termination or suspension for three or more days. Public disclosure of an OEIG report is not permitted when misconduct is not found. If the OEIG finds a violation of the Ethics Act has occurred, the OEIG may request that the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, on behalf of the OEIG, file a complaint regarding the matter with the EEC. If a complaint is filed and the EEC determines that a violation of the Ethics Act has occurred, it may levy a fine or issue injunctive relief.

Investigations are split between the General Investigations Division and the Regional Transit Board Division (RTB). In fiscal year 2021, the OEIG received 2,360 complaints (2,271 General and 89 RTB), initiated 63 investigations (57 General and 6 RTB), completed 57 investigations (49 General and 8 RTB), and issued 16 Final Summary Reports that found there was reasonable cause to believe there was wrongdoing. Moreover, 13 Final Summary Reports were publicly disclosed, resulting in greater public awareness of employee misconduct and serving as a deterrent to improper acts by public employees. At the close of fiscal year 2021, 93 investigations (80 General and 13 RTB) remained open.

Revolving-Door Determinations

Beginning in 2010, the Ethics Act requires the OEIG to determine whether certain state employees, appointees, and officials who, by the nature of their duties, are restricted from accepting non-state employment opportunities or compensation within one year of leaving state employment. Generally, these revolving-door determinations under the Ethics Act are intended to prevent former public servants who may have personally or substantially participated in contracting, licensing, or regulatory decisions from accepting employment from entities that were directly implicated in those decisions. Therefore, this process serves to ensure employees are making decisions that are in the best fiscal and public interest of the state.

In fiscal year 2021, the OEIG investigated and issued 187 revolving-door determinations.

Ethics and Harassment Prevention Training

All state employees, board members, and elected officials under the jurisdiction of the OEIG are required to complete an ethics training program overseen by the EEC and the OEIG on an annual basis. In calendar year 2020, state employees, board members, and elected officials participated in over 176,000 ethics training sessions overseen by the EEC and the OEIG. The OEIG produced ethics training for more than 61,000 employees and officials in agencies directly under the Illinois Governor, and approved training plans and materials used by the four Chicago-area regional transit boards and the nine state public universities.

Beginning in 2020, per Public Act 101-0221, harassment prevention training expanded to other types of unlawful harassment and discrimination, as well as sexual harassment. As part of overseeing harassment prevention training for the agencies within its jurisdiction, the OEIG has worked with the EEC to review and approve harassment prevention training program materials. In calendar year 2020, the OEIG reviewed and approved 34 harassment prevention training programs. In that same year, entities under the OEIG’s jurisdiction reported that over 165,000 harassment prevention training programs were completed. Additionally, the OEIG prepared a comprehensive reference guide on sexual harassment, harassment, and unlawful discrimination that it provided to agencies to assist them in preparing Ethics Act-compliant trainings.

Hiring and Employment Monitoring (HEM)

The Ethics Act directs the OEIG to “review hiring and employment files of each State agency within [its] jurisdiction to ensure compliance with Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois . . . and with all applicable employment laws.” (5 ILCS 430/20-20(9)) The OEIG's HEM division conducts compliance-based reviews of state hiring and employment procedures and decisions to ensure that they are lawful, merit-based, and/or justifiable.

HEM was created in fiscal year 2016 to conduct compliance-based reviews of personnel processes and decisions within agencies under OEIG jurisdiction. The creation was prompted by two main factors: OEIG investigative findings regarding hiring and/or employment improprieties; and the appointment of a federal court monitor, whose initial and ongoing charge to review hiring practices within the Illinois Department of Transportation was expanded in November 2016 to review all exempt positions under the jurisdiction of the Governor.

As part of HEM’s compliance work, HEM monitors hiring sequences — which includes in-person or virtual real-time monitoring of interviews — and conducts desk audits, which are paper-based reviews of agency hiring sequences after the interviews have been completed. HEM’s reviews routinely involve all personnel actions taken during a hiring sequence including the initial hiring planning, posting of the position, screening applicants, interviewing candidates, and selection (or cancellation). In fiscal year 2021, HEM reviewed 44 hiring sequences, performed 46 desk audits, monitored 222 interviews in-person or virtually, and reviewed 974 applications for state employment.

HEM issues Advisories that include a summarization of a specific hiring review conducted by HEM. These Advisories are transmitted to the agency human resources personnel and the Central Management Services Chief Compliance Officer, with copies to the Governor’s office, the head of the relevant agency, and the Shakman Special Master and plaintiffs. Each Advisory contains a summary detailing the subject and scope of HEM’s review; a description of HEM’s conclusions regarding the agency’s compliance with applicable rules and procedures; and recommendations on how to proceed, if necessary. HEM issued 87 Advisories in fiscal year 2021, four of which included requests for written agency responses that the OEIG received.

In January 2019, due in significant part to HEM’s work, the federal court entered orders in the Shakman litigation delineating nearly 1,000 exempt positions, which led to the creation of the Exempt List, a comprehensive list of exempt positions for which hiring and employment decisions may be made on the basis of political or other non-merit factors; and an Exempt Employment Plan, which is incorporated in the CEP, for filling positions on the Exempt List. The Exempt Employment Plan provisions set forth procedures for adding or deleting positions from the Exempt List, providing that only the Governor or the EIG may initiate such a change. HEM reviews all Exempt List addition and deletion requests from the Governor’s office and recommends approval of or objection to the proposed change to the EIG, who must respond to the Governor’s request within 10 business days unless an extension is sought. Prior to making a final recommendation, HEM conducts a comprehensive review of all available information related to the position and regularly communicates or meets with agency staff regarding questions about the position’s history, duties, reporting structure, and necessity. In fiscal year 2021, HEM made 28 determinations on Exempt List change requests, ultimately recommending approval of 25 additions and 3 deletions.

The Exempt Employment Plan also provides that candidates selected for exempt positions must meet the minimum qualifications and perform the duties of the exempt position being filled as set forth in the underlying position description: HEM’s work on ensuring and reporting on compliance with its provisions continues. In so doing, HEM’s work significantly reduces costs and billings related to federal court monitoring. In fiscal year 2021, HEM received and reviewed certification paperwork for 312 candidates. HEM staff further reviewed 541 position description clarifications for positions on the Exempt List to ensure that the modifications did not impact the position’s exempt status.

Regional Transit Board

The OEIG investigates allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, and other misconduct by officials and employees at the Regional Transit Boards (the Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace). The OEIG’s investigative work holds individuals accountable for their conduct and deters improper conduct by others. These enforcement and deterrent roles result in significant cost savings by stopping and preventing wasteful and improper conduct. The General Assembly recognized the OEIG’s value and cost-effectiveness by placing all four of the Regional Transit Boards under its jurisdiction in 2011.

Fiscal Year 2022 Activities

During fiscal year 2022, the OEIG will continue to focus its resources on matters that are complex, significant, and systemic, and that involve abuse of authority and resources, violations of the Ethics Act, and/or have the potential to materially influence the future conduct of public employees. The OEIG will also continue to conduct compliance-based reviews of personnel processes and decisions within the agencies under OEIG jurisdiction.

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