Federal Employees News Digest

IG vacancies raise concern

Federal employees and the public rely on oversight from Office of Inspector General examiners attached to most federal agencies and departments—to deter and investigate waste, fraud and abuse. 

Yet, as a new watchdog report spotlights, in recent times many IG positions stay vacant for months and even years at a time. The situation breeds agency inefficiency and, in some cases, corruption.

To draw attention to this continuing problem, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) placed a report along with an OIG Vacancy Tracker on its website. Currently, as listed on the site, at least 16 of the 74 permanent IG positions have remained vacant for anywhere from two months to several years straight. 

“Congress and the public rely on OIG reports to hold agencies and individuals accountable for wrongdoing, identify a need for legislation, and evaluate the effectiveness of government programs and policies,” the POGO piece states. “Unfortunately, many OIGs across the government do not have permanent leadership.”

OIGs “conduct audits and investigations that identify wasteful government practices, fraud by individuals and government contractors, and other sorts of government misconduct, even including torture,” POGO emphasized. 

Under the Constitution, Congress is tasked with both passing the laws that define and fund executive-branch departments, as well as providing oversight of those departments. Two hundred years later, in more recent decades, OIGs were created as an additive measure to help address the more complex needs of contemporary government. Indeed, most federal OIGs are a relatively new development, created by legislation in the late 1970s. Since that time, OIG testimony and reports have become a regular and crucial part of the data that informs and buttresses the legislative branch’s oversight work, ultimately helping curb inefficiency and corruption in government.

Yet nowadays, according to POGO, this system is endangered by increasingly long lapses in leadership in many OIG offices—a situation that needs to be rectified.

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