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Project on Government Oversight

Where Are All the Watchdogs?

12
Total number
of IG vacancies

Offices of Inspectors General (OIG) serve as independent watchdogs within federal agencies and are essential to a well-functioning federal government. They conduct audits and investigations that identify wasteful government practices, fraud by individuals and government contractors, and other sorts of government misconduct, even including torture. 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. Unfortunately, many OIGs across the government do not have permanent leadership. POGO’s “Where Are All the Watchdogs?” page tracks how long Inspector General positions across the government have been vacant.

Read more below: Who appoints the IGs | Why having a permanent IG is important | Methodology

 

AgencyDays VacantVacancy DateNomineeDays Since NominationNomination
Date
Who Nominates
the IG
               

 

             
This is the graphic seal for the Department of the Interior
Department of the Interior 02/23/2009* -- --  -- President

 

             
This is the graphic seal for the US AID agency
Agency for International Development 10/15/2011 Michael G. Carroll  6/10/2013 President
               
National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives and Records Administration 9/14/12 -- -- -- Agency

 

             
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Seal
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation  09/17/2013 -- -- -- President
               
Federal Housing Finance Agency Seal
 
Federal Housing Finance Agency 09/17/2013 Laura S. Wertheimer 5/22/2014 President
               
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Seal
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation 10/04/2013 -- -- -- Agency
               
The Denali Commission Seal
The Denali Commission  12/28/2013 -- -- -- Agency
               
VA Seal
Department of Veterans Affairs 12/31/2013 -- -- -- President
               
Library of Congress 1/7/2014 -- -- -- Agency
               
GSA Seal
General Services Administration 4/19/2014 -- -- -- President
               
Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission 6/1/2014 -- -- -- Agency
               
Export-Import Bank of the United States
Export-Import Bank of the United States 7/2/2014 -- -- -- President


Who Appoints the IGs

There are currently 73 statutory federal OIGs. Those OIGs fall into two broad categories: (1) OIGs that require the IG to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and (2) OIGs that require the agency to nominate the IG. The former category generally involves larger agencies, while the latter generally involves smaller agencies, known as designated federal entities. Thirty-two IGs require a presidential nomination, while 41 require an appointment by the agency.

** Although SIGAR requires a presidential appointment, it does not require Senate confirmation. 

Why Having a Permanent IG Is Important 

OIGs are best positioned to be effective when led by a highly qualified permanent IG, rather than an acting official or no IG at all. Permanent IGs undergo significant vetting—especially the IGs that require Senate confirmation—before taking their position. That vetting process helps to instill confidence among OIG stakeholders—Congress, agency officials, whistleblowers, and the public—that the OIG is truly independent and that its investigations and audits are accurate and credible.     

In addition, a permanent IG has the ability to set a long-term strategic plan for the office, including setting investigative and audit priorities. An acting official, on the other hand, is known by all OIG staff to be temporary, which one former IG has argued “can have a debilitating effect on [an] OIG, particularly over a lengthy period.” Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has echoed that sentiment, saying “Even the best acting inspector general lacks the standing to make lasting changes needed to improve his or her office.”

Methodology

The initial list of vacancies was obtained from a directory of IGs maintained by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). Vacancy dates for IG positions that require a presidential appointment were obtained from a database maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Vacancy dates for IG positions not listed in the GAO database were obtained from a variety of sources, including IG resignation letters and agency press releases. POGO defines the start of a vacancy as the last date in which a permanent IG served in that capacity. Information regarding presidential nominations was obtained from a database maintained by the White House.

* Earl Devaney, the most recent permanent Inspector General at the Department of the Interior, was appointed Chair of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board on February 23, 2009. Devaney took a leave of absence from his position at Interior at that point, leaving Acting IG Mary Kendall responsible for running the office. Devaney has now resigned from federal service. POGO considers the position effectively vacant at the time Devaney was appointed Chair of the RAT Board, although it should be noted that the Obama Administration did not have the power to fill the position until Devany retired from federal service at the end of 2011.  

Please contact ldennett@pogo.org if you notice that the status of an IG position has changed.