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Frequently Asked Questions

Contact the OIG Hotline.

Sandra D. Bruce is the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education. Read her bio.

The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education must be nominated by the President and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

According to the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, the Inspector General’s mission is to do the following.

  • Conduct independent and objective audits and investigations relating to Department programs and operations.
  • Promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Department programs and operations.
  • Prevent and detect waste, fraud, abuse, and other activity.
  • Keep the Secretary of the Department and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies in Department programs and operations and the necessity for and progress of corrective action.

Read more about OIG authorities and responsibilities.

The Inspector General reports to both the Secretary of the Department and the Congress.

Inspections are systematic and independent assessments of the design, implementation, and/or results of an agency’s operations, programs, or policies. Inspections are conducted under the Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation issued by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.  Audits are conducted under the Government Accountability Office’s Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards.  An OIG investigation is a criminal or civil investigation into a potential violation of law, conducted by criminal investigators. If we find that there has been a violation, these matters are usually prosecuted by DOJ or State or local prosecutive entities and can result in fines, restitution, incarceration, etc.

Many factors go into our decision to audit a particular program or entity that participates in U.S. Department of Education programs (for example, Federal student aid) programs, including (but not limited to) programs we consider to be high risk due to their complexity, or allegations or reports of possible waste, fraud, or abuse involving a particular program or entity that we may have received.  We also examine programs in order to evaluate their effectiveness.  We present the major audit initiatives and priorities we plan to undertake each year in our Annual Plan.  Read our current Annual Plan.

Many factors go into our decision to investigate a particular entity or individual, including (but not limited to) allegations or reports of possible waste, fraud, or abuse involving a particular program or entity that we may have received. 

You should contact the Department directly at 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) for this information.

This information is available on our Non-Federal Audits page.

Information on our investigations can be found in our Semiannual Reports to Congress and in our press releases.

Please know that we cannot provide information regarding what actions have been taken on any allegation reported to our office, including case status, as Federal regulations prohibit the disclosure of information contained in law enforcement records even to the individual submitting the allegation. You may, however, request information about an investigation by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request

Learn more on our Whistleblower Protections page.

If the matter does not involve fraud, waste, abuse, or identity theft, please contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman’s office.

Established by the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) works to address integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend individual Government agencies. The OIG is a part of the CIGIE. For more information, please visit CIGIE's website.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or ‘‘CARES Act’’ established the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), composed of inspectors general from across the Federal government. The PRAC is tasked with conducting, coordinating, and supporting inspectors general in the oversight of the trillions of dollars in emergency Federal spending to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act named nine specific agency inspectors general to the Committee, including our OIG. For more information, please visit the PRAC website.

Not seeing your question here? Contact the OIG Public Affairs Office.