7 CFR § 2610.1 - General statement.

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§ 2610.1 General statement.

(a) The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, 5 U.S.C. app. (IG Act), established an Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and transferred to it the functions, powers, and duties of offices referred to in the Department as the “Office of Investigation” and the “Office of Audit,” previously assigned to the OIG created by the Secretary's Memoranda 1915 and 1727, dated March 23, 1977, and October 5, 1977, respectively. Under the IG Act, OIG was established as an independent and objective unit, headed by the Inspector General (IG), who is appointed by the President and reports to and is under the general supervision of the Secretary.

(b) OIG conducts and supervises audits and investigations relating to Department programs and operations; provides leadership and coordination and recommends policies for activities designed to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of, and to prevent and detect fraud and abuse in, such programs and operations; and provides a means for keeping the Secretary of Agriculture and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of such programs and operations and the necessity for and progress of corrective action.

(c) The IG has specific duties, responsibilities, and authorities pursuant to the IG Act, including to:

(1) Provide policy direction for, and conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations relating to USDA programs and operations.

(2) Review existing and proposed legislation and regulations related to USDA programs and operations and make recommendations to the Secretary and the Congress on the impact such laws or regulations will have on the economy and efficiency of program administration or in the prevention and detection of fraud and abuse in USDA programs and operations.

(3) Recommend policies for, and conduct, supervise, or coordinate other activities carried out or financed by USDA for the purpose of promoting economy and efficiency in the administration of, or preventing and detecting fraud and abuse, in USDA programs and operations.

(4) Recommend policies for, and conduct, supervise, or coordinate relationships between, USDA and other Federal, State, and local governmental agencies and nongovernmental entities regarding the promotion of economy and efficiency, prevention of fraud and abuse, or the identification and prosecution of participants in fraud and abuse.

(5) Keep the Secretary and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems, abuses, and deficiencies, and the necessity for and progress of corrective actions in the administration of USDA programs and operations.

(6) Report expeditiously to the Attorney General any matter where there are reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of Federal criminal law.

(7) Have access to all records, reports, audits, reviews, documents, papers, recommendations, or other material available to the Department which relate to programs and operations for which the IG has responsibility.

(8) Make such investigations and reports relating to the administration of USDA programs and operations as are, in the judgment of the IG, necessary or desirable.

(9) Request such information or assistance as may be necessary for carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the IG Act from any Federal, State, or local governmental agency or unit thereof.

(10) Issue subpoenas for the production of information, documents, reports, answers, records, accounts, papers, and other data in any medium (including electronically stored information, as well as any tangible thing) and documentary evidence necessary in the performance of functions assigned by the IG Act, except that procedures other than subpoenas shall be used to obtain documents and information from Federal agencies.

(11) Whenever necessary in the performance of functions assigned by the IG Act, administer to or take from any person an oath, affirmation, or affidavit, which shall have the same force and effect as if administered or taken by or before an officer having a seal.

(12) Have direct and prompt access to the Secretary when necessary for any purpose pertaining to the performance of functions and responsibilities under the IG Act.

(13) Select, appoint, and employ necessary officers and employees in OIG in accordance with laws and regulations governing the civil service, including an Assistant Inspector General for Audit (AIG/A) and an Assistant Inspector General for Investigations (AIG/I).

(14) Obtain services as authorized by 5 U.S.C. 3109.

(15) Enter into contracts and other arrangements for audits, inspections, studies, analyses, and other services with public agencies and private persons, and make such payments as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the IG Act, to the extent and in such amounts as may be provided in advance by an appropriation act.

(16) Receive and investigate complaints or information from any Department employee concerning the possible existence of an activity constituting a violation of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety.

(17) Designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman, who will educate Department employees about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures; and who have made or are contemplating making a protected disclosure about the rights and remedies against retaliation for protected disclosures.

(d) Pursuant to § 2.33 of this title, the Secretary has made the following delegations of authority to the IG:

(1) Advise the Secretary and General officers in the planning, development, and execution of Department policies and programs.

(2) At the request of the Secretary's security office, determine the availability of OIG law enforcement personnel to assist the security office in providing for the personal security of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary.

(3) Serve as liaison official for the Department for all audits of USDA performed by the Government Accountability Office.

(e) The IG, under section 1337 of the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981, Public Law 97-98, 7 U.S.C. 2270, and pursuant to rules issued by the Secretary in part 1a of this title, has the authority to:

(1) Designate OIG employees who investigate alleged or suspected felony criminal violations of statutes administered by the Secretary of Agriculture or any agency of USDA, when engaged in the performance of official duties to:

(i) Make an arrest without a warrant for any such criminal felony violation if such violation is committed, or if the employee has probable cause to believe that such violation is being committed, in his/her presence;

(ii) Execute and serve a warrant for an arrest, for the search of premises, or the seizure of evidence when issued under authority of the United States upon probable cause to believe that such a violation has been committed; and

(iii) Carry a firearm.

(2) Issue directives and take the actions prescribed by the Secretary's rules.