Lawmakers push Obama about IG vacancies

Too many federal departments and agencies don't have full-time inspectors general to oversee activities and keep the work on track, eight congressional leaders said in a May 17 letter to President Barack Obama.

The bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers urged Obama to begin nominating experienced IGs to fill the vacant spots.

In fiscal 2007, IGs closed 33,740 investigations on issues related to benefit recipients, contractors, grantees and federal employees, the lawmakers wrote. However, that number decreased in fiscal 2008 and again in fiscal 2009. (Read more reports.)


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Lawmakers are concerned because there are nine vacancies for presidentially appointed positions, eight of which have come open since the beginning of Obama’s term.

“We are particularly concerned that many of these vacancies involve departments and agencies responsible for oversight of several of your administration’s most important initiatives,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter lists some examples of vacancies in which oversight is crucial, including the special IG for Afghanistan reconstruction, the special IG for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the IG for the Intelligence Community. At the Cabinet level, the Homeland Security, State, Justice, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development departments have no permanent IG, the letter states.

“The investigations and reports of inspectors general help Congress shape legislation and oversight activities,” the members wrote. “The inspectors general also play an important role in improving government performance, providing transparency into federal programs and giving Americans better value for their tax dollars.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of that committee; Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the committee’s Contracting Oversight Subcommittee; and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the subcommittee’s ranking member.

It was also signed by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the committee’s ranking member; Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the committee’s National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee; and John Tierney (D-Mass.), the subcommittee’s ranking member.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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