The 911th AW Inspector General: Champions of Integrity and Efficiency

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James E. Harris III
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Imagine that a master sergeant flops a massive amount paperwork onto the desk of a young Airman.

“Finish these files before the end of day or you will have no leave this coming weekend!”

“But sir!” the Airman responds. “My leave has already been approved.”

“Well,” retorts the master sergeant, “it can easily be unapproved.”

They drop a pen on the Airman’s desk and walk away, leaving them with an unreasonable workload and seemingly no help. Seeing the incident, a staff sergeant seeks to console the beleaguered Airman.

“Hey man,” the staff sergeant says. “I just saw what happened. You know you can go to your chain of command and talk to them about what is going on.”

“No way,” responds the Airman. “I’ll just let it blow over. I don’t want to make matters worse.”

“They will help if you talk to them,” the staff sergeant says sternly. “And if they don’t, you can always go to IG.”

“IG?” the Airman says hesitantly. “I don’t even know what that is.”

“Yeah, IG!” the staff sergeant responds. “You know, The Inspector General! They can really help you out.”

The obvious questions in this hypothetical situation are: who is the Inspector General, what do they do and how can more Airmen utilize their services?

According to Col. Dustin J. Pawlak, Inspector General assigned to the 911th Airlift Wing, one way to describe the IG is as an ombudsman, or officials appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against maladministration.

“The role of the IG office is to support the men and women of 911th AW by developing, establishing, and controlling methods and procedures to implement IG policies and programs,” said Pawlak.

To support this, the IG has two critical roles: Inspections and Compliant Resolution. First, the Inspection branch strengthens a commander’s mission effectiveness and proficiency through independent assessment. The efforts of inspections are used to motivate and promote military readiness. This is done by improving unit performance through identifying, analyzing, and reporting issues which interfere with readiness, morale, discipline, compliance and effectiveness.

The Complaint Resolution office is designed to enhance the organization’s discipline, readiness, and war-fighting capability. It utilizes fact-finding methodologies to seek out systemic issues affecting the organization such as reprisal, restriction and abuses of authority. According to the Air Force IG reference guide, reprisal is defined as taking or threatening to take an unfavorable personnel action or withholding a favorable personnel action on a military member for making or preparing a violation report.

Similarly, restriction is defined as the placement of boundaries or barriers upon military members using direct or indirect means to contact agencies like the IG.

According to Title 10 U.S. Code 1034, “No person may restrict a member of the armed forces in communicating with a Member of Congress or an Inspector General.”

Meaning, individuals in supervisory positions should be warned that mandating the use of the direct chain of command prior to using agencies like the IG could potentially result in a restriction allegation. That doesn’t mean the IG should be the first and last stop for potential complaints.

“I encourage members to reach out to their chain of command first,” Pawlak said. “Give our enlisted leaders and officers an opportunity to resolve any issue you may have.”

The IG aims to educate leadership teams and the 911th AW’s populace.

“We take this responsibility very seriously, said Pawlak. “So, we focus a great deal of attention on major performance areas.”

One of these major areas the IG is involved with is Fraud, Waste, and Abuse. FWA is a potential problem that can drain significant resources and ultimately rob American taxpayers. Thus, having an active FWA program saves valuable resources by identifying illegal, inefficient and wasteful practices; it also makes funds available for other, better uses. Through the IG, commanders at all levels are not only held responsible for both personnel and resources but must also foster an environment where FWA reduction is part of the organization’s culture.

Another important role the IG plays is to direct and manage the Wing Inspection Program, said Pawlak.

This includes oversight of the Management Internal Control Toolset, more commonly known as MICT, and the Commander’s Inspection Program which fosters a culture of constant compliance, critical self-assessment, and continuous enhancement of mission effectiveness by providing Airmen the right information at the right time to assess risks, identify areas of improvement, and precisely focus limited resources.

The IG also documents any wing non-compliance items through CCIP inspection reports and in the Inspector General Evaluation Management System.

The IG mission is wide in scope and is available to service members regardless of rank. The 911th AW IG team is here to act as the final outlet for conflict resolution, enabling service members to stay focused on the mission. Like other helping agencies on base, the IG is designed to listen and respond to the concerns and help find the most effective resolution path to get Airmen operating at optimal levels.