Justice Department:

An Assessment of the Need for a Statutory Inspector General

AFMD-86-8: Published: Feb 24, 1986. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the organization and operation of the Department of Justice's audit and investigative activities to: (1) determine how they differ from those authorized under the Inspector General Act of 1978; (2) offer a recommendation on whether Justice should have a statutory inspector general (IG); (3) address Justice's objections to establishing an IG; and (4) provide information on the different methods of structuring a Justice IG.

GAO found that, unlike other federal agencies whose investigations and audits are carried out by personnel and organizations that are independent of department operations, Justice's audit and investigative units are not organizationally independent, which could affect their impartiality. Impairments exist because the five bureau-level investigative units determine what items are significant enough to report. There is also no assurance that the Attorney General is promptly apprised of the work of the investigative units because reports must pass through many officials to reach him. GAO found that there is no one person or office responsible for coordinating audits and investigations. Justice's opposition to an IG concern the impact of an IG on departmental law enforcement operations and the ability of the Attorney General to exercise broad-based discretion in directing Justice's investigative, prosecutorial, and litigation functions. However, the act specifically requires an IG to: (1) comply with Comptroller General's standards for audits of federal establishments, organizations, programs, activities, and functions; (2) promote efficiency and effectiveness in a department's programs and operations; and (3) alert an agency head of serious problems rather than become involved in an agency's line of effort. The audit and investigative units selected for inclusion in Justice's IG office will determine the nature of the role of the IG within the agency.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A statutory IG was established by the Inspector General Act Amendments of 1988, signed into law in October 1988.

    Matter: Congress should amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 to establish an Office of Inspector General (OIG) at Justice in order to: (1) strengthen management's control; (2) promote efficient and effective operation; (3) combat fraud, waste, and abuse; and (4) ensure that the Attorney General and Congress are kept fully and currently informed of any serious problems.


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