Senate urges President to fill inspector general vacancies

By Sean McCalley
Federal News Radio

The White House still hasn’t named permanent inspectors general for 10 different agencies. So the 16 members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee penned a letter to President Barack Obama and those 10 agencies urging them to fill the spots and add stability to the watchdog process.

“The overall message is we want to work with this President and make sure that we get independent and permanent inspectors general into those spots,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the committee on In Depth with Francis Rose.

Johnson says 15 percent of agencies with Offices of Inspector General are currently operating without a permanent IG. Some, he added, have been without permanent oversight for years.

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The Department of Interior hasn’t had a permanent inspector general in over 6 years — more than 2,216 days in total. The Department of Veterans Affairs, which Johnson called “one of the most troubled agencies in the federal government,” has been without one for at least 444 days.

“The absence of permanent, Senate-confirmed or agency-appointed inspectors general in these positions significantly diminishes the ability of OIGs to perform thorough and independent oversight,” Johnson said. “Our committee will continue to provide OIGs with the support they need, and that includes putting pressure on the president and his agency heads to quickly fill these position.”

As it stands, there are seven vacancies among presidentially-appointed Inspectors General, and three vacancies among agency-appointed positions. Two of those are currently pending congressional confirmation.

“Inspectors Generals and their staffs promote efficiencies throughout our federal government, help reveal and prosecute wrongdoing, and provide invaluable support to Congress and the agencies they oversee. Simply put, they are an essential component of government oversight,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the committee. But if we expect these offices to meet their missions and get results, they must have permanent leadership in place. I urge President Obama and the appropriate agency leaders to act swiftly and nominate permanent Inspectors General so that we can ensure the most qualified candidates are in these positions.”

The agencies without a permanent Inspector General are:

  • Department of the Interior
  • Agency for International Development
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Veterans Affairs Department
  • General Services Administration
  • Export-Import Bank of the United States
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • Denali Commission
  • Federal Trade Commission

“If we have any hope of making government more efficient, more effective, and more accountable, we really do need to rely on the permanence and independence of Inspectors General who don’t have to worry about political considerations as they investigate and inspect the different programs and potential problems in their agencies and departments,” said Johnson.

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