The State Department has gone without an inspector general for four years, raising concerns that the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya could have been averted or, at least, more thoroughly investigated if President Barack Obama had filled the post during his first term.
The last head of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State was Howard Krongard, who retired in January 2008.
Since Krongard’s departure, the critical role of overseeing an office charged with investigating instances of fraud, waste and mismanagement in the State Department has gone unfilled.
According to the OIG’s website, a key duty of the inspector general is to ensure the safety of State Department facilities: “OIG performs specialized security inspections and audits in support of the Department’s mission to provide effective protection to our personnel, facilities, and sensitive information.”
“The sheriff is out of town,” John Malcolm, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Whether there’s a question about Benghazi, or whether it has to do with fiscal management, or potential criminal wrongdoing, or crossing the political lines like violations of the Hatch Act, it’s important that there be an internal watchdog,” Malcolm added.
Throughout his first term, President Obama has consistently declined to name anyone to lead the OIG.
“You don’t think about these positions until all of a sudden something like this comes up,” Malcolm said. “But there isn’t somebody who is there to investigate the matter and present the facts in a forthright manner.”
The OIG is technically led by Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel, who has served since June 2008.
But the lack of an appointed and confirmed head weakens the credibility and efficacy of OIG, according to Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.
“It’s actually illegal for that person to continue to be called an acting director, because he was in that position for so long but he was not elevated to be nominated to be the official IG,” Brian told The DCNF. “There is a total lack of leadership, a lack of confidence on the part of that office to take on the difficult tasks, because they don’t have the political cover of someone who’s been confirmed by the Senate to take this important job on.”