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Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions

Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions. Wendy Ginsberg, Analyst in American National Government; Michael Greene, Information Research Specialist. December 8, 2014.

“Federal inspectors general (IGs) are authorized to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within their affiliated federal entities. To execute their missions, offices of inspector general (OIGs) conduct and publish audits and investigations—among other duties. Two major enactments—the Inspector General Act of 1978 and its amendments of 1988 (codified at 5 U.S.C. Appendix)—established federal IGs as permanent, nonpartisan, and independent offices in more than 70 federal agencies. OIGs serve to assist Congress in overseeing executive branch—and a few legislative branch—agencies. They provide recommendations and findings to their affiliated agency head and to Congress that may save the government millions of dollars per year. As a result, Congress may have an interest in ensuring that federal OIGs have the appropriate authorities and access to information they need to perform their investigations, audits, and evaluations. Concurrently, Congress has a responsibility to protect some records and information, such as national security information or information about an ongoing criminal investigation, from improper release. This report provides background on the statutory creation of federal OIGs and provides historical context for contemporary debates about the strengths and limitations of the offices.”

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