Frequently asked questions



1. Are staff required to report possible wrongdoing?

The staff regulations require staff members to report without delay any instances of fraud or possible wrongdoing.

2. What should be reported?

FAO has a zero-tolerance policy vis-à-vis fraud in all its manifestation and does not tolerate, under any circumstances, the diversion of the resources allocated to FAO from serving their ultimate purpose of ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger. Staff should report the possible existence of fraud, waste, abuse of authority or other irregular activities and practices.

3. How do I report allegations of fraud or misconduct?

Allegations can be sent to OIG through a number of confidential channels:

  • Call or fax the Office of the Inspector General
  • Submit on-line through a secure server
  • Write to the secure email address
  • Write to the office in Rome
  • Visit the Inspector General's office in Rome or one of the regional auditors

4. Can I submit an allegation anonymously?

Allegations can be submitted anonymously, however, anonymous allegations are more difficult to investigate and staff is encouraged to identify themselves. If you do prefer to remain anonymous, you may wish to provide some contact information to the Office or contact the Office again at a later time.  This will allow the investigation unit to correspond with you as necessary, to seek clarification or request additional information.

5. Will the information be treated confidentially?

The confidentiality of witnesses and information is respected at all times. Any staff member who compromises the confidentiality of an investigation is subject to disciplinary action.

6. What happens if the allegations are not true?

No reprisals shall be taken against staff members providing information, unless it is determined that the information was provided with the knowledge that it was false, or with intent to misinform.

7. How long does it take to resolve a complaint?

The time required to complete an investigation varies, depending on the complexity of the matter and number of the allegations received during that time period.

8. Are FAO staff required to cooperate with investigators?

Staff are required to cooperate fully in making available any relevant material or information requested during the course of an investigation, according to FAO rules.

9. How does the Whistleblower Protection Policy work?

The Office of the Inspector General has been mandated to receive and investigate credible allegations of retaliation within the context of the Whistleblower Protection Policy.

The Whistleblower Protection Policy protects against retaliation aimed at FAO personnel who reports suspected unsatisfactory conduct in good faith. Retaliation is defined as any direct or indirect detrimental action recommended, threatened or taken towards an individual who has reported unsatisfactory conduct or provided information concerning the same. When established, retaliation in itself constitutes unsatisfactory conduct that may lead to an administrative or disciplinary action.

Protective measures include but are not limited to temporary suspension of the implementation of the action reported as retaliatory and, with the consent of the complainant, temporary reassignment of the complainant or placement of the complainant on special leave with full pay.

10. Who is informed about the results of investigations?

The Inspector General reports to the Director-General. If the allegations are substantiated, the investigative findings are referred to FAO Human Resources Management Division, which determines the next steps to be taken.

11. What happens if the allegation is determined to be true?

The Inspector-General does not recommend disciplinary action or sanctions when an allegation is substantiated. The Office presents the findings to the FAO Human Resources Management Division, which determines the next steps to be taken. MS 330 provides that unsatisfactory conduct is punishable by disciplinary action, including such severe disciplinary measures as dismissal, or summary dismissal. Furthermore, in such cases, monies due to FAO by the staff member involved are systematically recovered from salaries or terminal emoluments. Depending on the circumstances of each case, the Organization may pursue recovery through the national judicial authorities of the country where the fraud has been committed.

12. Who decides which departments or project will be audited?

The Inspector General decides, based on a risk assessment, input from the departments and projects themselves, and requests from senior management and staff.

13. What should I do if I want my department or project to be audited?

Discuss this with the Inspector General, who will decide whether the audit will be done.

14. Why was my division/unit/function/programme selected for review?

Each bienniun, working with senior management and staff, the Office develops a Biennial Risk Based Audit Plan based upon a risk analysis of organizational units and business functions of the Organization.  The analysis factors a combination of risk criteria (e.g., date/results of last audit, financial exposure, operational stability, public exposure, complexity of oprations, regulatory impact, key performance indicators, and control environment) for each organizational unit.  Risks are weighted based upon auditor judgment and information gathered from meetings with senior management within the Organization.  Broad audit coverage is targeted with higher risk quotients being reviewed on a more frequent basis than less risk-intensive units.  Once developed, the Inspector General submits the plan to the Director-General for input and then to the Audit Committee for final approval.  The plan is updated each year in December.

15. What should I do if I want my department or area to be audited?

Discuss this with the Inspector General, who will decide whether the audit will be done.

16. What happens during an audit?

The audit process, for most engagements, normally consist of four stages:  Planning (sometimes called Survey or Preliminary Review), Fieldwork, Audit Report, and Audit Follow-up.  Client involvement is critical at each stage of the audit process.

17. Who performs the audits? 

 Professionals with an in-depth understanding of the business culture , systems, and processes, risk management, internal control and accounting principles. 

18. What Professional Standards are followed?

Internal Audit follows the Institute of Internal Auditor's (IIA) International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.  

19. What is the difference between external and internal audit?

Although they are independent of the activities they audit, internal auditors are integral to the Organization and provide ongoing monitoring and assessment of all activities. On the contrary, external auditors are independent of the Organization and provide an annual opinion on the financial statements. The work of the internal and external auditors should be coordinated for optimal effectiveness and efficiency.

20. Who audits the auditors?

The work of Internal Audit is periodically reviewed by the External Auditors. In addition, at least once every five years and external assessment on the internal audit activity is completed by a qualified, independent review team from outside the Organization. Their results are reported to the Director General, the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee.

21. How do you help ensure quality client service?

At the completion of each audit engagement, the Inspector General requests primary audit clients to complete and return a client service evaluation form to identify areas for improving our service. The Inspector General also welcomes comments at any time regarding the quality, timeliness, and responsiveness of internal and external audit engagements .

22. How can I best work with auditors? 


Each audit engagement has a defined scope and objectives. Any auditor requesting information from you should be able to explain the audit’s purpose and objectives so you can understand the reasons for questions being asked and provide accurate answers. When you understand the audit’s purpose, you can assist by either providing relevant information or, if you are not he best source of the requested information, directing the auditor to the right person or office. If you have questions or concerns about information being requested, it is appropriate to discuss those concerns with the auditor, an Internal Audit manager, or the Inspector General.

last updated:  Thursday, February 8, 2024