Four Step Hotline Process

The U.S. Marine Corps Command Inspector General (IG) is responsible, in part, for managing hotline complaints. Its website provides guidance on how to prepare and file a complaint, with a detailed four step hotline procedure. As provided on the Inspector General website, here are the four steps—guidance for military members and civilian personnel who wish to file a complaint.

1.       Determine the best method to address your issue.

Complainants are encouraged first to attempt to resolve the issue using the chain of command and to file a formal grievance if they are unable to resolve the matter within the chain of command. A helpful feature of this step, as provided on the website, is a “common complaints list” which provides information about the appropriate offices to contact for various types of complaints.

2.       Review the Frequently Asked Questions so that you will know what to expect when you file a hotline complaint.

The website links to an FAQ list that provides information deemed useful to anyone considering making a complaint. FAQs can be helpful if there are a sufficient number to answer most questions and if the answers provided are detailed enough to provide real guidance. The Marine Corps FAQ list answers the following questions:

  • Who may use the hotline?
  • What issues should you report to the hotline?
  • What other avenues of redress are available?
  • How do you submit a hotline complaint?
  • Do you have to identify yourself?
  • Does the IG take telephone complaints?
  • Is there a time limit to file a complaint?
  • What can you expect when you file a hotline complaint?
  • What does the IG expect from someone who makes a complaint to the hotline?
  • Do we guarantee we will conduct an investigation?
  • How long does it take to investigate a complaint?
  • How do you determine the status of your complaint?
  • If you do not agree with the results of the investigation, can you ask for reconsideration?

3.       Prepare your complaint for submission to a Command Inspector General.

Complainants are asked to provide as much information as they can in the following categories: who, what, where, when, how much, why and how. They are also reminded to include information about what they have done to try to resolve the issue and what they want the IG to do.

4.       File a complaint with the Command Inspector General

The final step in the process provides a link to a complaint form and an email address to which it can be sent. Anonymity can be requested. Best practice corporate processes might provide anonymous telephone hotlines or web-based hotlines instead of email, which is typically linked to an individual. But as you can see, these steps, with minor modification, would work as well for a non-military audience.

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Command Inspector General, U.S. Marine Corp. “4 Step Hotline Procedure.” From