A survey of inspectors general (IG) released yesterday discovered that they have been significantly affected by the sequester and other budget cuts. The data, collected by the Association of Government Accountants in partnership with Kearney and Co., revealed that over two-thirds of IGs see limited resources as their top challenge.
The inaugural report, titled AGA’s Annual Inspector General Survey: Effective Oversight in a Changing Environment, has two goals:
…provide information on cross-cutting issues that affect IG operations in the Federal Government today, and identify issues that may emerge in future years that will impact IG operations.
Budget cuts were a particular concern in recruiting new, talented hires. Almost 90 percent of the offices rated IT security as their most critical hiring need, but most of those surveyed revealed they were operating under a hiring freeze, hiring an average of one worker for every three vacancies. One office had to reduce its audit staff by 13 percent due to the sequester, while another reported its lowest staff since 1978.
Federal IGs, for the most part, reported positive experiences working with internal agency management. All respondents rated their level of support from agency management as either Very Good or Excellent, and 69 percent said they meet with Congressional Committee staff on a regular basis.
The study concluded that budget restraints “limit the ability of IG offices to acquire and retain individuals with the skill sets they need.”
Looking ahead, many IGs will be required to balance stagnant budget resource levels and growing responsibilities with innovative approaches to oversight that leverage technology, greater collaboration and sharing, and more timely communication to maintain effective oversight in an uncertain and changing environment.
The Project On Government Oversight has mostly been concerned with vacancies at the head of IG offices, but as oversight responsibilities increase, IG offices will need to have the necessary funding to complete their mission of providing strong internal oversight of federal agencies.
Photo Courtesy of AGA's Annual Inspector General Survey.