Office of the Inspector General
An analytical process designed to determine whether a wrongful act has occurred and, if so, the persons or entities responsible. Investigations help ensure the highest ethical standards and identify ways to improve internal controls.
Preventing fraud and misconduct
Fraud, corruption and misconduct pose a grave threat to the effective implementation of the Organization’s policies and objectives. With FAO's overriding mandate of ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger, it is imperative that all resources allocated to this end, both human and financial, are not diverted from their ultimate purpose. As a result, the Organization has adopted a Zero Tolerance Policy in respect to fraud in all its manifestations.
Efforts to prevent and combat fraud are given the highest priority at FAO, and this responsibility falls on all FAO personnel. In fact, the Policy on Fraud and Improper Use of the Organization’s Resources states that “[t]he responsibilities of [FAO personnel] in respect of fraud prevention and detection go beyond merely abstaining from committing fraud. As part of the duty of loyalty, the Organization expects each staff member to ensure that the prescribed policies and procedures are fully adhered to and that any breakdown in the system of internal control is immediately reported. The standards of conduct applicable to staff members oblige them to report without delay any instances of fraud, waste and malfeasance to the detriment of the Organization.”
Investigations generally arise out of complaints the Unit receives so is important for those involved in activities supported by FAO to report concerns of fraud or corruption in those operations.
The Organization’s efforts to prevent and combat fraud goes beyond FAO personnel, as the Office mandate includes investigating alleged violations by personnel and the activities by third parties, such as FAO suppliers and partners involved in FAO programmes and operations. The Investigations Unit’s resources focus primarily on preventing and investigating potential fraud and corruption involving projects and operations.
Submitting a complaint
The Office of the Inspector General has a secure mechanism to receive complaints related to FAO's activities, and encourages all those with information to contact the Office.
Complaints can be submitted anonymously, however, because anonymous reports are harder to investigate, those reporting allegations are encouraged to identify themselves, knowing that their names will be kept confidential, and that there are measures in place to protect them against retaliation. To ensure that FAO personnel can report suspected unsatisfactory conduct without fear of retaliation, FAO has issued The Whistleblower Protection Policy, which prohibits retaliation against a FAO personnel who reports suspected unsatisfactory conduct, or cooperates with, the Office of the Inspector General in the course of an audit or an investigation.
FAO has implemented the following rules to safeguard the rights of staff members and others involved in the investigation process:
What to report
Allegations that should be reported to the Office of Inspector General include:
Offenses that should not be reported to this office include:
How to make a confidential report
The investigative process
The investigations unit is responsible for ensuring an impartial, fair, prompt and thorough review of the facts and circumstances surrounding reports of misconduct and fraudulent activity, including a review of any exculpatory evidence. FAO rules provide that unsatisfactory conduct is punishable by disciplinary action, including such severe disciplinary measures as dismissal, or summary dismissal. The Inspector-General may also make recommendations, based on the findings, to improve internal controls in order to prevent similar incidents in the future
All allegations are initially reviewed to determine if they are credible and refer to a serious violation of FAO policies prohibiting misconduct and fraudulent activity. Those allegations that don't qualify as misconduct or fraud, but do relate to violations of FAO policy or other managerial issues, may be referred to internal audit, Human Resources Management Division or other FAO office as appropriate for resolution.
Compliance with the Organization’s Environmental and Social Standards
FAO is committed to ensuring that its programmes are implemented in accordance with the Organization’s environmental and social standards. In order to better achieve these goals, and to ensure that beneficiaries of FAO programmes have access to an effective and timely mechanism to address their concerns about non-compliance with these obligations, the Organization, in order to supplement measures for receiving, reviewing and acting as appropriate on these concerns at the programme management level, has entrusted the Office of the Inspector-General with the mandate to independently review the complaints that cannot be resolved at that level.