Impact of Administrative Budget Procedures on Independence of Offices of Inspector General

AFMD-84-78: Published: Sep 26, 1984. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the budget and funding processes for 17 offices of inspector general (OIG) and the potential of these processes to affect OIG independence.

GAO stated that the legislation which established OIG gave extensive consideration to balancing OIG independence and agency management's needs. By requiring statutory inspectors general (IG) to report directly to agency heads or their deputies, this legislation sought to ensure the independence of IG's by placing them at a sufficiently high organizational level to insulate them from internal agency pressure. Agency budget processes that, in effect, delegate decisions on the resource levels of IG's below the level of agency head or deputy may appear to be an impediment to OIG independence, especially where there is a conflict of interest. Further, OIG independence may appear to be impaired when agencies can easily reprogram funds to other agency operations. Finally, because IG's are not always given the opportunity to present and justify their resource needs, the Office of Management and Budget and Congress are not fully aware of those needs.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The House Committee on Government Operations requested the Appropriations Committee's support in implementing this recommendation. Committee staff stated that no further action will be taken.

    Matter: Congressional appropriations and authorizing committees should specify a funding floor for OIG activities in appropriations where funds of OIG are commingled with funds for other activities and request that each IG testify before Congress in support of his or her OIG budget request.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Modified budget procedures were reported to the Subcommittee and GAO by agencies. IG's have verified the revised approach. An accomplishment report will be prepared.

    Recommendation: To enhance OIG independence, secretaries/administrators or their deputies in agencies with statutory IG's should have the unmodified budget requests of IG's, as well as any advice and counsel provided by other agency officials, to clearly reflect that ultimate decisionmaking on the OIG budget is restricted to themselves.

    Agency Affected: Heads of Federal Agencies


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