Getting Real At The IG Academy

Originally published at National Journal
By K. Daniel Glover

Agents in the IG community have earned a reputation as skilled auditors who annually identify billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse. But they are more than numbers crunchers who warn of flaws in federal programs; they also have law enforcement powers that demand intense schooling in the inspection arts. That is the mission of the IG Criminal Investigator Academy.

IGs have received specialized training in law enforcement since 1987, but the current academy was not created until 1999. It was moved to Arlington, Va., in March so that it would be easily accessible for the Washington-based IG agents. “We’re essentially the watchdog of the federal government,” said Terry Freedy, executive director of the academy. “And just like if you had a canine watchdog, it’s no good if it isn’t trained.”

Future inspectors general get their first taste of law enforcement at the sprawling Federal Law Enforcement Training Center near Brunswick, Ga. Freedy said people describe that center, which trains investigators for more than 75 agencies, as “one-third college campus, one-third military installation, and one-third theme park.”

But that education does not prepare students entirely for work in the IG community, she said. “You need to have some sort of agency-specific or mission-specific follow-up training.”

The next step, Freedy added, is general IG training at the academy. Students learn to master everything from basic computer techniques, such as how to trace money through financial institutions, to interrogation and weapons skills. They are also taught how to use collapsible batons and pepper spray, as well as other defensive tactics.