The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General was created 20 years ago, on April 14, 1989. We began operations with approximately 300 employees who came primarily from internal affairs, audit, and inspections units from throughout the Department. Over the past two decades, the OIG’s has grown in size and its authority has expanded significantly from the limited jurisdiction it had upon its creation. The OIG now has 425 employees located in Washington, D.C. and in more than 20 Investigations and Audit Division field offices across the country.
At its inception, the OIG had the authority to conduct audits and inspections in all Department components but its jurisdiction to investigate employee misconduct was limited. However, in 1994 Attorney General Janet Reno issued an order giving the OIG authority to investigate misconduct by Department law enforcement agents, except for agents in the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In 2001 Attorney General John Ashcroft issued an order that expanded the OIG’s jurisdiction to investigate allegations of misconduct involving FBI and DEA employees, which Congress codified in 2002. And in 2002, OIG investigators obtained statutory law enforcement authority.
During the past 20 years, the OIG has made significant contributions to improving the operations of the Department of Justice. The OIG has issued more than 5,000 audit reports and nearly 250 inspection reports containing thousands of recommendations for improvement, most of which the Department has agreed to implement. In addition, during this period the Investigations Division has processed more than 140,000 complaints and opened more than 10,000 cases that have resulted in more than 2,000 convictions and 2,000 administrative actions.
OIG reviews over the years have independently and objectively examined some of the most complex issues facing the Department, such as reviews of the FBI’s handling of the Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen espionage cases, the FBI’s handling of intelligence information related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the treatment of detainees held on immigration charges in connection with the investigation of the September 11 attacks, the FBI’s involvement in detainee interrogations at Guantanamo, the misuse of national security letters, and most recently allegations of politicized hiring and firing in the Department.
Amidst our many significant accomplishments, the OIG also has experienced tragedy, most notably the death of OIG Special Agent William “Buddy” Sentner who was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 21, 2006, while working as part of an OIG team to arrest six Bureau of Prisons correctional officers at a federal prison in Florida. When one of the guards was being arrested, he began shooting, hitting Special Agent Sentner. In his last heroic act, Special Agent Sentner returned fire, saving the lives of many others while sacrificing his own life. Special Agent Sentner was a hero in every sense of that word, and the OIG continues to honor his service and sacrifice.
On the 20th anniversary of the creation of the OIG, we thank the current and former OIG employees who have created and sustained an office that continues to make significant contributions to the Department of Justice.