How to Address an Inspector General

NOTE: See the post below How to Address an Inspector General as to which inspector generals are addressed as the Honorable and which are not.

—-Envelope, official, if the office merits the Honorable:
—-—-The Honorable
—-—-(Full name)
—-—-Inspector General
—-—-(Name of Department)

—-Envelope, official, if the office does not the Honorable:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr.* (Full name)
—-—-Inspector General
—-—-(Name of Agency or Organization)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Mr./Ms./Dr.* (surname):


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address an Inspector General?

Is a federal government inspector general addressed as the Honorable?  The office is several layers below cabinet rank?
———————— DC Resident on Tunlaw Road, NW

It depends on which Inspector General you are addressing.

—-Inspector generals of federal departments, major agencies and administrations are addressed as the Honorable (Full Name):
—-—-Agency for International Development
—-—-Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense,
—-—-Education, Energy, etc.
—-—-Central Intelligence Agency
—-—-Environmental Protection Agency
—-—-Export-Import Bank
—-—-General Services Administration
—-—-Small Business Adminstration
—-—-—-and many others are.

—-Inspector generals of commissions, boards, and smaller organizations are addressed as Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Full Name):
—-—-Consumer Product Safety Commission
—-—-Equal Employment Commission
—-—-Farm Credit Administration
—-—-Environmental Protection Agency
—-—-Library of Congress
—-—-National Labor Relations Board
—-—-National Science Foundation
—-—-U.S. Postal Service
—-—-—-and many others are not.

The Council of Inspector Generals maintains a list of inspector generals and perhaps your ‘inspector general’ is listed. If not call his or her office to confirm.

For more on the use of the Honorable, see that post.

— Robert Hickey

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

In an Inspector General the Honorable?

There are two ways to be appointed as a Federal Inspector General:
#1) by Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation
#2) by appointment by the head of the agency.

In the IG Act, the latter is known as a “designated Federal entity” as opposed to the former being regarded as an “establishment”. (See Inspector General Act, 5 U.S.C. app.5.)

Is it appropriate to address both types of appointed IGs (who perform the functions of IG equally) as the Honorable.
——————–— Madelyn Dean

Dear Ms. Dean:
Having two categories of office holders in the same office is not uncommon:

* Most sheriffs are elected, but some are appointed … only the elected sheriffs are the Honorable ….

* Same situation with clerks of courts, school boards, various commissioners, and chiefs of police. Only the elected officials are the Honorable ….

So …

IG who is a Presidential appointment + Senate confirmation:
—–—–The Honorable Kevin White

Other IG:
—–—–Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. etc, Kevin White

— Robert Hickey


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”