IG emphasizes resourcefulness, confidentiality

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Story by Cathy Segal on 01/13/2017
DETROIT ARSENAL If a commanding general wanted to pick someone to be an extension of his or her eyes, ears, voice and conscience among the workforce, he or she might be drawn to someone who has seen the Army from both inside and out. If that wasn't the case for Maj. Gen. Clark LeMasters, TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, he got more than he bargained for when he selected Maj. Jennifer Rader as his inspector general.

Rader, a logistics officer before broadening her career as TACOM's IG, is a third generation Soldier, so she has seen and experienced a lot about the Army in her life. Her grandfather blazed through the enlisted ranks to sergeant major and climbed to major before retiring after serving as a quartermaster, and her father is a retired lieutenant colonel who worked in the air defense artillery branch. Her connection to the Army doesn't end there, though. Her husband is the first sergeant at Detroit Military Entrance Processing Command. Her son and son-in-law are Soldiers, too. She also has three grandchildren, but they are not yet old enough to take the oath.

As the TACOM IG Rader reports directly to the CG, which helps avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest, maintains impartiality and protects the integrity of the inspector general system. Her staff includes four assistant IGs. Additionally, three depots have acting IGs and one arsenal is working to fill a vacancy. Acting IGs, who are not school trained, work cases as an extra duty in addition to their full-time primary duties. "They can immediately work that coordination back with us so we're working any investigations or any assistance that goes above and beyond what our acting IGs can assist," Rader said. "They have a little smaller scope of what they can do and can't do, but they're the ones who can be that face on site," she added.

"Our real mission is to increase the effectiveness and readiness of the command," Rader said in early December. "I have an open door policy with the CG. I can walk straight in there if I've got any issue or he needs to be aware of anything. I've been here two months and I've already had three sit-downs with him, and I'll have another one coming here soon," she added.

As a newly appointed IG, Rader attended training for one month after arriving at TACOM in September 2016. Her previous assignment was as the secretary of the general staff for 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Daegu, South Korea.

Rader arrived to a position that had been vacant for about a year. "My biggest goal when I got here was just really looking at our standard procedures, doing an initial assessment of where I can make an impact initially. I have a great team that has been able to do everything and there really isn't much of a delta, so my goal is whatever the CG's goal is," she said. "The biggest thing is to basically get out there and push the understanding of what the IG has to offer to our workforce. I didn't understand or know all the different functions that an IG did until I was school trained," she admitted.

Now that she has been on the job for a few months, Rader has set more goals. "I want to fully understand where the CG's vision is and what he wants us to get out there and do," she said. Part of that is the command inspection plan for the rest of FY 17 and beginning of FY18. "It's a very aggressive inspection plan, which is good because it's everything he wants us to look at," she added.

"The biggest thing I want to get across is that the IG is really here to help everyone have a voice within the command, and assist them. There was always a negative connotation if you reached out to the IG," said the graduate of Hawaii Pacific College and Liberty University of her own background.

Though Rader said she was raised to think of the IG as "black hatters," she now realizes that she and her staff can provide research and assistance for people when they don't know where else to turn. "We can sometimes open up doors and get through the process a lot quicker just because we eliminate a lot of the running around or chasing your own tail trying to figure out where you need to go and who you need to talk to," she said. "I never did realize how much we really could assist," she added.

Rader said the teaching and training aspect of her mission often happens during inspections, where her staff can pass on lessons learned to enable others to benefit from their experience.

"Teaching and training is the big umbrella over all of the other functions that we do," she said. "When we do inspections we're going to be researching the policies, the regulations; it's not to say 'I gotcha,' it's to say, 'How can we get you to be in compliance? Oh, you didn't know so here's the regulation, here's what you need to do to get into compliance.'"

The IG trains subject matter experts so they are fully prepared to inspect their functions. "That's one of the things we do, and do well," Rader said.

She said that teach and train also applies to assistance cases. "Someone might say, 'I don't know how to fix a pay problem.' OK, well, let me teach and train you how to fix that; here's your touch point. This is the reason why it is this," she said. "For example, we've had medical reimbursement cases, and the reason why you didn't get reimbursed was because this, this, this. Teaching and training." Then she described the complainant's typical response: "Well, I don't know why I think I got gipped or had a problem, but now I understand why," or "yes it was correct" or "no it wasn't correct."

The IG also explained that not everyone who comes to her leaves with the answer they want. "We're fair and impartial fact finders, so we're going to get down to the facts and teach and train anybody to the area that we're talking about. Everything we do involves teaching and training," she said.

Rader wants people to know that the IG has a duty to protect a complainant or assistance seeker's identity and other personal information to help protect privacy, maintain confidence in the IG system and minimize the risk of reprisal.

"Confidentiality," she said, "is one of the biggest things that just because you come provide information to us does not mean that your information is put out there for everyone to know. You are basically anonymous until you tell us we can use your information. In our office we know who you are, but if we have to do anything outside of our office -- talk to anyone or assist you in any other way, it's not tied to the one who brought that assistance case to us," she emphasized.

Rader went on to explain the limitations that confidentiality can present. "Obviously, there are certain times where if you don't allow us to utilize your information then we can only help you to a certain extent." For example, if it's a pay problem, "I can't go research pay if you won't let me tell the pay people I need to look at you specifically. I can only keep in generalities," she added.

The identity protection extends to the CG as well. "I give him the trends of what it looks like we're doing, how we're doing overall, then he can make command decisions," Rader said. "We have a lot of people who inquire about pay issues, personnel management issues. He only gets the trends to give him a sense of how the command is looking from our own perspective. We're just one input to the commander for how his command is operating and doing, but it's not a report to the commander of who came to see me today."

The TACOM IG is available to Soldiers and employees, military family members and the general public to help resolve command issues. Call (586) 282-6254 or email to schedule an appointment.

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