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Where Are All the Watchdogs?
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 vacancy tracker monitors how long Inspector General positions across the government have been left vacant.
Why Having a Permanent Inspector General Is Important
There are currently 74 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-seven (37) IGs require a presidential nomination, while 37 require an appointment by the agency.
** Although SIGAR requires a presidential appointment, it does not require Senate confirmation.
** FCC currently staffed by an agency appointee but is awaiting presidential appointment. Transitioned to presidential appointment via H.R.1625 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018.
Report: The Watchdogs After Forty Years
Policymakers should ask this simple but important question: Is the work of the inspector general community fulfilling the promises of four decades ago?Read the report
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 email@example.com if you notice that the status of an IG position has changed.