Critical Read

Mounting requirements, shrinking staffs plague IGs

AGA Survey Series -

What: The Association of Government Accountants’ 2015 Inspector General Survey, released in conjunction with accounting firm Kearney & Company.

Why: As mandatory audit requirements rack up, the ranks of qualified IG staff are shrinking, six dozen federal IGs reported in the annual survey.

More than half of IGs said they devote 20 percent of their resources to mandatory audits; 13 percent said the figure was 40 percent. Mandatory audits have a disproportionate impact on smaller IG offices, AGA’s report noted, and new requirements going into effect next year as a result of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act will only add to the pressure (though only 6 percent of IGs said the specific DATA Act requirements would cause a “significant disruption” in their plans).

IGs called for the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to play a bigger role in promoting information sharing between IG offices, and cited the closure of the Recovery Operations Center as a blow.

Staffing was another major concern.

Forty-five percent of IGs reported staffing declines between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2015; only 7 percent said their staffing had increased by more than 10 percent.

More than half criticized the hiring process, and 25 percent said they don’t get a qualified candidate pool using the existing hiring processes. IT security auditors were the hardest people to hire, IGs reported, echoing earlier complaints about the dearth of qualified IT auditors.

The survey comes as IGs across government have had their access to information limited, and the Office of Personnel Management’s IG was kept in the dark amid a culture clash as the OPM breach maelstrom swirled.

Verbatim: “Nearly all IGs had concerns about increases in mandatory examinations and reporting requirements while their staffing levels and budgets have remained flat or decreased. In 2015, audit and review requirements associated with the DATA Act were added to the recent requirements for conference spending reviews, purchase and travel card audits, and improper payment audits. The IGs are worried that as more resources are devoted to fulfilling the requirements of mandatory audits and funding levels remain constant or decrease, fewer resources are available to address important high-risk areas of an agency’s operations and a significant part of its mission.”

About the Author

Zach Noble is a former FCW staff writer.

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