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POGO: IG vacancies raise concerns

The public, and federal employees themselves, rely on the Office of Inspector General that exists at most federal agencies and departments for oversight—to deter and investigate waste, fraud and abuse. 

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

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has posted an OIG Vacancy Tracker on its website, spotlighting the problem. On the site, at least 16 of the 74 permanent IG positions are listed as having remained vacant for from two months to many 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 report 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 the Constitution, Congress was invested with both passing the laws that govern and fund executive-branch departments—as well as, normally, providing the needed oversight over them. Indeed, OIGs were created to address the far more complex needs of contemporary government, and most departmental OIGs are a relatively new development, having been created by legislation from the late 1970s onward. 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, helping to curb inefficiency and corruption in government.

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