Testimony of Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee regarding “Watchdogs Needed: Top Government Investigator Positions Left Unfilled for Years” June 3, 2015.
“At their best, Offices of Inspector General (OIG) are essential to a well-functioning federal government. IG offices recover billions of dollars in wasted taxpayer funds and make improvements to federal programs that keep us healthy, safe, and secure. IGs wear two hats, reporting to their agency heads and to Congress. As a result of this dual-reporting structure, IGs are uniquely positioned to serve as your eyes and ears within the executive branch, giving you the information you need to conduct effective oversight and pass meaningful legislation. POGO has worked for years to study and improve the IG system, and we have supported legislation to make IGs more independent and accountable. As such, we are deeply troubled to find that many senior IG officials are allegedly currying favor with the very agency leaders they’re supposed to oversee, and taking other inappropriate actions that would cause any reasonable person to question the IG’s independence. Among the most pervasive threats to IG independence and effectiveness are the long-standing vacancies that have languished at IG offices throughout the federal government. POGO believes it is no coincidence that so many long-time acting IGs have found their independence called into question on front pages of newspapers across the country—especially when those acting officials make it known they are auditioning for the role of permanent IG. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that the opening of an IG vacancy can occur for a perfectly appropriate reason—such as removing a permanent IG who fails to uphold her office’s mission.”