Homeland Security Dept. Finally Gets an Inspector General after a 3-Year Vacancy…9 More IG Positions Still Unfilled
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) went three years without an inspector general before John Roth, who had led the Food and Drug Administration’s office of criminal investigations, was confirmed by the Senate on March 6. Charles Edwards had been acting IG for the department, but resigned late last year after he became the subject of a congressional investigation into charges of nepotism and abuse of power.
Inspectors general are expected to audit the department or agency for which they work for examples of fraud, waste, mismanagement and general incompetence.
The Homeland Security inspector general post was unfilled for 1,134 days before Roth was confirmed. That’s a long time, but it wasn’t close to the current record. That’s held by the Department of Interior, which hasn’t had an IG since February 23, 2009, or 1,846 days as of this writing. There are several other agencies waiting for permanent inspectors general. The State Department went more than five years without a permanent IG until Steve A. Linick was confirmed in September.
“Having a permanent inspector general in place is critical for effective oversight,” Project on Government Oversight (POGO) communications director Joe Newman told Government Executive. “POGO has long believed that permanent IGs are more effective than acting and temporary IGs because they have greater job security. With job security comes a greater degree of independence, which is necessary for aggressive oversight.” POGO maintains a list of departments and agencies without a permanent inspector general. Among the nine of the list are the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
POGO was among those critical of the Obama administration for leaving posts unfilled for long periods. More nominees have been confirmed since the Senate changed its rules on filibusters for most executive appointments.
Before his resignation as acting inspector general of DHS, Edwards was accused of requiring office personnel to drive him and his wife on personal errands, getting government workers to help him write his Ph.D. dissertation and employing his wife in his own office.
To Learn More:
Several Major Agencies Still Lack Permanent Watchdogs (by Charles S. Clark, Government Executive)
Department of Homeland Security Finally Has a Permanent IG (by Lydia Dennett, POGO Blog)
Obama Nominates FDA Official John Roth as Homeland Security Inspector General (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)
State Department Has Gone 5 Years without an Inspector General (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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