Where have all the federal watchdogs gone?

The State, Interior, Labor and Justice departments have gone without a permanent inspector general for a year or longer, according to a new website created by the Project on Government Oversight watchdog group.

The length of vacancies at those departmental Offices of Inspector General ranges from 376 days at Justice, to 940 days at Labor, 1080 days at Interior and 1,484 days at the State department, which is the longest period of vacancy.

Eight other federal agencies, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments, have been without permanent inspectors general for a year or less.

Inspectors general are independent investigators and auditors that identify wasteful practices, frauds and other misconduct.

As of Feb. 8, 12 agencies were without a permanent inspector general, out of the 73 federal IG offices set up by Congress. Approximately half require presidential nominations, while the remainder require that the agency appoint the inspector general.

Although federal agencies generally have named acting inspectors general to the vacant positions, having those positions be permanent is important for accountability, the group said.

“OIGs are best positioned to be effective when led by a highly qualified permanent IG, rather than an acting official or no IG at all,” POGO said in a statement. “Permanent IGs undergo significant vetting—especially the IGs that require Senate confirmation—before taking their position. That vetting process helps to instill confidence among OIG stakeholders—Congress, agency officials, whistle blowers, and the public—that the OIG is truly independent and that its investigations and audits are accurate and credible."

In addition, a permanent inspector general has a greater ability to set a long term strategic plan, the group said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Feb 14, 2012

It doesn't matter, it is all a big joke. The IG doesn't give a damn about fraud, waste, etc. and whistleblower protection is non existant.

Fri, Feb 10, 2012

The authors grammar is correct. Break the sentence down. The author is talking about multiple inspector generals (plural) and these multiple IGs are independent (acting as individuals and as a group) so again, it is plural. Changing the sentence to make inspectors plural would be like changing the term security guards to be securities guard.

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 John Kannaby Chicago, IL

Inspector generals are a waste. They protect the Agency they work for. I sent one 28 (19 pages) instances of fraud, waste and abuse with documentation to rule on. Reply never addressed any of the instances but replied on something not asked about. A one paragraph reply. If Inspector General is connected to the Agency it is watching, it is a fraud and a waste.

Fri, Feb 10, 2012

As of the New Year (2012), we have a situation currently going on in our agency that has been the center of a Congressional hearing, AND THAT INVOLVES THE POLICE, THE IG! So think how bad it would really be if agencies POLICED THEMSELVES...Taxpayers' dollars really will be misused more often than not!!!

Fri, Feb 10, 2012

too bad the author does not know proper grammer....i believe that "Inspector generals are independent..." should be "Inspectors general are independent..."

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