League of Women Voters of Nebraska

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Why is the Office of Inspector General so important?

Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers has ruled the Office of Inspector General (OIG) unconstitutional. This affects both the OIG for Nebraska Child Welfare and the OIG of Nebraska Corrections System, both created by the Unicameral.

The OIG for Nebraska Child Welfare was created following a significant crisis in the child welfare system. They have just issued their 2022-2023 report. “Why is the Inspector General so Important?” The following are excerpts of the OIG of Nebraska Child Welfare’s report:

  • The OIG has made 115 recommendations for system improvement to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), two private providers contracted with DHHS’s Division of Children and Family Services, and the Administrative Office of Probation, Juvenile Services Division. Eighty-four of those recommendations have been accepted by those agencies and providers
  • The OIG’s work has informed senators on key issues as they drafted legislation related to child welfare, including but not limited to, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death education, sexual abuse of state wards, oversight of Nebraska’s Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers, and the privatization of case management in the Eastern Service Area.
  • The DHHS Division of Children and Family Services has been without a director for more than six months.
  • This past fiscal year the OIG was able to improve and clarify its required monitoring of sexual abuse allegations, continue its monitoring of the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers, and renew its focus on juvenile detention facilities.
  • The OIG also completed three investigations into the deaths or serious injuries of five system-involved children.
  • The OIG continued its important work of receiving complaints from the general public about the child welfare and juvenile justice systems as well as other intakes and reports of incidents required to be shared with the OIG.
  • The OIG’s ultimate purpose is to foster good government and create transparency and accountability in these critical systems. Structurally, the OIG is housed within the Office of Public Counsel, or ombudsman’s office, which is part of the legislative branch.

The Unicameral has engaged the services of an outside lawyer to craft a response to the AG’s ruling.