Holding the Government Accountable

Watchdog Positions Still Vacant Under Trump Administration

(Photo: Nicolas Raymond / Flickr)

Today, The New York Times editorial board wrote a piece criticizing the Trump administration’s proposals to cut the budgets of Offices of Inspector General (OIG) and failure to nominate IGs to fill vacancies in key posts. The Times links to POGO's IG Vacancy Tracker, our oft-cited resource for keeping tabs on how long watchdog positions have been unfilled. The editorial board urged Congress to step up and champion IGs as they have done before in a bipartisan manner.

IGs are independent watchdogs within each governmental agency that perform audits and investigations into corruption, fraud, waste, and other wrongdoing. Recommendations by IGs have led to savings for taxpayers and reforms within their respective agencies.

However, nearly a quarter of IG positions are vacant, with some key agencies going without a permanent IG for more than a year, including the Interior Department, the Energy Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Social Security Administration. Instead, these positions are filled by acting inspectors general who, according to the editorial, may “be reluctant to make extensive changes or take bold action, particularly if they hope to be nominated for a permanent appointment.”

The Project On Government Oversight has repeatedly testified before Congress on this issue, urging Congress to pressure the White House to fill IG positions. At the same time, POGO advocates a rigorous IG vetting and confirmation process by the White House and the Senate to ensure IG candidates are qualified, credible, and independent.