Holding the Government Accountable

Strengthening Government Watchdogs

The Problem

The Problem

Inspectors general may be some of the least known — and most important — people in government. Working within but independent of government agencies, inspectors general can protect taxpayer dollars, hold government officials accountable, and enhance the overall effectiveness of our public institutions. They raise the alarm when things go wrong and make recommendations for how to make them right. But inspectors general are increasingly under threat from Congress and the White House — slashed funding, political interference, and a lack of authority often prohibit them from doing their jobs. Worse still, some inspectors general have been insulated from accountability themselves, leaving bad watchdogs in power for far too long. We’re working to protect inspectors general from partisan intervention and to ensure they’re always looking out for the public interest.

Quick Facts

Did you know?

Government corruption, public health emergencies, medical supply shortages, flaws in aircraft safety — these are just some examples of what inspectors general can identify and uncover.

Rooting out waste, fraud, and mismanagement, inspectors general are a great investment of taxpayer dollars. According to a 2023 report by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, the return on that investment is 20 to one.

The Pentagon had no permanent inspector general from 2016 until late 2022, a gap that included parts of the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations.

What’s at Stake

What’s at Stake

Without Effective Watchdogs, the Public Is at Risk

Government officials and agencies may be more likely to infringe on individual rights and civil liberties and feel less compelled to act transparently and responsibly if they are not subject to rigorous independent oversight.

Watchdogs Can Be Fired for Doing Their Jobs

Inspectors general must be able to be independent to effectively do their jobs — but their offices are at the mercy of the president, who can remove or replace them for political motives.

Bad Watchdogs Can Protect Bad Actors and Broken Systems

When inspectors general aren’t themselves held to the highest standards, they can perpetuate the same culture of impunity and misconduct they were appointed to root out.

Read our investigation

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