Where Are All the Watchdogs?

11
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
               

 

             
Graphic of Department of the Interior Seal
Department of
the Interior
2/23/2009* - - - President
               
Graphic of Export-Import Bank of the United States Seal
Export-Import Bank
of the United States
6/27/2014 - - - President
               
Graphic of Central Intelligence Agency Seal
Central Intelligence Agency 1/31/2015 - - - President
               
Graphic of Department of Energy Seal
Department of Energy 9/29/2015 - - -  President
               
Graphic of Department of Defense Seal
Department of Defense 1/09/2016 - - - President
               
Graphic of Office of Personnel Management Seal
Office of
Personnel Management
2/19/2016 - - - President
               
Graphic of Postal Service Logo
Postal Service 2/19/2016  -- -- --  Agency
               
Graphic of Social Security Administration Seal
Social Security Administration 5/29/2016 - - - President
               
nsa-ig-seal
National Security Agency 5/31/2016 - - - President
               
aoc-seal-150
Architect of the Capitol 12/17/2016 - - - Agency
               
Small Business Administration Seal
Small Business Administration 1/07/2017 - - - 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-four IGs require a presidential nomination, while 39 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. If no specific date can be found but a month can be identified, the last day of that month is used. 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 Devaney retired from federal service at the end of 2011.  

Please contact Nick Pacifico at npacifico@pogo.org if you notice that the status of an IG position has changed.