Today, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) released a new report with policy recommendations to strengthen the role and independence of the federal government’s independent watchdogs. The report is released as the Inspector General Act of 1978 celebrates its 40th anniversary, and is aimed at helping the inspector general community transform and adapt to meet the new challenges that the next 40 years will bring.
POGO crafted the report and recommendations with the input, guidance, and full support of a review group which includes former federal inspectors general from the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Treasury, the Postal Service, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
POGO’s recommendations address the need for strong and consistent leadership, a higher prioritization of major issues affecting the nation—such as harm to health, safety, and constitutional rights—and how best to work with and support whistleblowers.
Two of the most pressing problems facing inspectors general are long-term vacancies and resource constraints. Some inspector general offices have been without leadership for years, as POGO tracks in our “Where Are All the Watchdogs?” database. Further hindering them from conducting effective, reliable oversight, many inspector general offices suffer from inconsistent or inadequate budgets. The report details specific recommendations to counter these and other problems.
“Inspectors general are vital to bringing accountability to the federal government. Especially in this hyperpartisan age, we need these independent, nonpartisan watchdogs to be asking tough questions, digging deep into the answers, and, in the end, holding the government accountable for its actions,” said Liz Hempowicz, POGO’s director of public policy. “In order to do this crucial work, the inspectors general must be effectively led, fully staffed, adequately resourced, and heartily encouraged to do their work thoroughly and completely.”
The report builds on POGO’s previous work, released a decade ago, on the capacity of the inspectors general to rigorously fulfill their oversight duties, which has led to Congress enacting numerous meaningful reforms in the years since.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing. We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical, and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.