Federal Inspectors General: Another Type of Oversight

Federal Inspectors General: Another Type of Oversight 2016-12-14T21:49:53+00:00

The Inspector General Act of 1978 established the responsibilities and duties of a Federal Inspector General. The IG Act has been amended many times to increase the number of agencies with statutory IGs. This culminated in 1988 with the establishment of IGs in smaller, independent agencies. An even broader version was signed into law in 2008.

Who are the Inspectors General?

IGs are appointed on the basis of their personal integrity and expertise in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations. IGs serving in Cabinet-level departments and major sub-Cabinet agencies are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. IGs at independent agencies, corporations, and other designated Federal entities are appointed by the heads of those entities.

What do they do?

  • Conduct independent and objective audits, investigations, inspections, and evaluations.
  • Promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  • Prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Review pending legislation and regulation.
  • Keep the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed.

How do they carry out their responsibilities?

  • Issue fact-filled reports, based on professional audit, investigative, and inspection standards, detailing the results of their work.
  • Have independent access to records and information of the agency.
  • Issue court documents requesting information from outside the agency.
  • Administer oaths for taking testimony.
  • Hire staff and contracted resources.

How do they contribute to good government?

  • Offer analysis and advice on critical government-wide initiatives, such as physical and information security, grants management and financial management.
  • Look independently at problems and recommend possible solutions.
  • Perform independent investigation of allegations.
  • Provide technical and/or consultative advice as new plans and policies are developed
  • Maintain hotlines for anonymous and confidential reporting of fraud, waste and abuse allegations.

In Fiscal Year 2014, the Offices of Inspector General — comprised of 14,000 employees and 72 OIGs — identified significant potential dollar savings, as well as program efficiencies and enhancements from a range of audits, investigations, evaluations and inspections. The Inspector General community was responsible for successful investigations of individuals and entities who threatened government integrity and the public trust.

Together, the work of the OIG community resulted in significant improvements to the economy and efficiency of programs Governmentwide, with potential savings totaling approximately $46.5 billion. With the OIG community’s aggregate FY 2014 budget of approximately $2.6 billion, these potential savings represent about an $18 return on every dollar invested in the OIGs. The potential savings total includes:

  • $13.8 billion in potential savings from audit recommendations agreed to by
    management, and
  • $32.7 billion from investigative receivables and recoveries.

In FY 2014, OIGs also considerably strengthened programs through:

  • 6,856 audit, inspection, and evaluation reports issued;
  • 24,301 investigations closed;
  • 547,948 hotline complaints processed;
  • 5,521 indictments and criminal informations;
  • 5,895 successful prosecutions;
  • 1,827 successful civil actions;
  • 5,195 suspensions or debarments; and
  • 3,988 personnel actions.

Successful political appointees look upon these organizations and agencies as independent and objective advisors who are able to help them identify where the trouble spots are so that they can be addressed and resolved. In addition, establishing a working relationship with organizations and individuals involved in oversight activities can help ensure the appointee does not stray into questionable territory or take or direct others to take actions that may be viewed as inappropriate or illegal when the allegations see the light of day.

For more results from fiscal year 2014, go to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency “Progress Report to the President” at https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/FY14-Progress-Report-to-the-President.pdf

For more information on the Federal Inspectors General community in general, go to http://www.ignet.gov/

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