Examination of the Effectiveness of Statutory Offices of Inspector General

AFMD-81-94: Published: Aug 21, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 1981.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed 15 statutory offices of inspectors general to identify those operational and managerial problems that had an adverse impact on inspectors general activities and that reduced the ability of inspectors general to achieve their legislated mandates. GAO emphasized identifying problem areas that affected the inspector general concept as a governmentwide approach to detecting fraud, abuse, waste, and mismanagement.

All inspectors general had some problems, and several of these problems were common to many offices. The problems found at several offices clearly constitute areas needing improvement if the inspectors general concept is to succeed. Nine offices of inspectors general reported staff shortages. Budget cuts by their agencies, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress have resulted in substantially lower-staffing levels than those requested by most inspectors general for fiscal year 1980; most actual staffing levels at the end of fiscal year 1980 were lower than those congressionally authorized. At several offices, the hiring freezes affected the ability of inspectors general offices to reach authorized staffing levels. Travel fund reductions have caused reductions in the scope of many jobs and the postponement of new assignments. Several inspectors general officials felt that their efforts to obtain additional resources were hampered by organizations outside the inspector general structure, and many stated that little coordination existed between their group and these external organizations. Major weaknesses were found in the vulnerability assessments performed by inspectors general offices. The inspectors general have assumed responsibility for processing, investigating, and following up on GAO hotline referrals; however, several problems were identified in a review of individual case files. Inspectors general reports to Congress varied widely in content and format and have been used very little.

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