A dozen top federal departments and agencies have gone without Inspectors General (IG) — the government’s front line of defense against waste and fraud — for more than two years on average, including the Department of Interior, which has been without a permanent watchdog for 8.5 years, according to data compiled by the Project on Government Oversight.
The IGs expose hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful spending and government misconduct every year. They also recommend to the Department of Justice prosecution of hundreds of public and private sector workers accused of defrauding taxpayers.
The IG system was created by the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act after corrupt and incompetent General Services Administration employees approved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fraudulent invoices for furniture, painting walls and performing repairs and maintenance in federal facilities, computers and other office equipment and supplies.
In addition to the 8.5 years the Interior Department has been without a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed top watchdog, there has been an IG vacancy at the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. for 3.3 years, according to POGO.
The Central Intelligence Agency has lacked a permanent IG for 2.6 years, while the vacancy has existed at the Department of Energy for just short of two years. Similarly, the Department of Defense job has been left unfilled by the president for 1.69 years. At the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s chief human resources agency, it’s been 1.57 years since the last confirmed IG was on the job.
Other departments and agencies on POGO’s list include the Social Security Administration and the National Security Agency (both 1.3 years), Small Business Administration (250 days), Federal Election Commission (195 days), the Intelligence Community (167 days) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (76 days).
Many of the nation’s biggest government scandals result from IG investigations and audits. The FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a home-brew server located in a bathroom of her New York mansion and multiple private email addresses was prompted by an Intelligence Community IG referral.
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