Long-Time Inspector General Stepping DownTweet
April 11, 2014
After a decade investigating government waste and fraud under two presidents, Brian Miller, inspector general of the General Services Administration (GSA), announced this week that he will be retiring effective April 18.
Miller has held his position for nine years and became well-known for the attention-grabbing investigations his office has carried out since he began the job in 2005 under President George W. Bush. He is leaving the federal government to join Navigant, a global dispute and investigation advisory firm, which has received a relatively small amount of government contracts (only totaling about $1 million with GSA since 2000)—not enough to raise revolving door red flags for the Project On Government Oversight.
Perhaps most notable during Miller’s time as IG was a 2012 investigation that became a paradigm of government waste. In 2010, the GSA hosted a Western Regions Conference in Nevada that cost a whopping $823,000. The conference’s excessive spending as revealed in the IG report included $6,325 on commemorative coins, $8,130 on yearbooks and a $2,000 party in a hotel suite. The report led to the resignation of the GSA administrator and the firing of two top aides.
“I count myself fortunate indeed to have worked on so many important and interesting cases, audits, and investigations in my federal career,” Miller said in a statement. Before taking the IG position, Miller served as a federal prosecutor.
“Very few lawyers get to work on so many different matters. I prosecuted terrorists, fraudsters, drug kingpins, represented a federal magistrate judge and represented the Attorney General in a series of cases arising out of 9/11 in the Eastern District of New York,” he said. “My federal career has been unbelievably exciting and I am sorry to leave federal service.”
One little known investigation that Miller was very proud of involved the recovery of lost and stolen New Deal era artwork. GSA’s recovery efforts have been successful and Miller often boasted about the copies of some of the recovered works that hung in the IG’s office.
Miller also aggressively targeted vendors who were illegally overcharging the GSA under the price reduction clause of the False Claims Act, which requires agencies be given the best pricing possible through the life of the contract. He also went after Booz, Allen & Hamilton for billing its employees at higher job categories than would have been justified by their experience thereby submitting excessive bills. His office successfully collected hundreds of millions worth of damages.
As the co-chair of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force Legislation Committee, Miller promoted many reforms in the task force report entitled "Procurement Fraud: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Proposals." The paper consisted of recommendations that would significantly aid the government in preventing, detecting, and prosecuting procurement fraud.
“Brian Miller was GSA's watchdog, but he was also a proponent of making it easier for all federal agencies to go after contract fraud and hold contractors accountable,” said Scott Amey, POGO’s general counsel. “Losing him is a huge hit for the government's anti-fraud movement.”
In a letter to the president announcing his retirement, Miller wrote that serving as IG was a challenging and worthwhile experience. “One former inspector general described inspectors general as ‘straddling a barbed wire fence.’ And so, that has been my experience,” he wrote.
At the time of publication Avery Kleinman was the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.
Topics: Government Accountability
Related Content: Inspector General Oversight
Authors: Avery Kleinman
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