Inspectors General:

Office Consolidation and Related Issues

GAO-02-575: Published: Aug 15, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2002.

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Jeanette M. Franzel
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There are currently 57 inspectors general (IG) subject to the Inspector General Act of 1978 or similar statutory provisions. The President appoints 29 IGs who are confirmed by the Senate. Twenty-eight IGs in designated federal entities (DFE IGs) are appointed by their agency heads. GAO developed a survey that included key elements related to IG independence, quality of work, and resources. Responses to the survey indicate a clear delineation between the responses of the presidential and DFE IGs regarding the potential impact of conversion and consolidation. The presidential IGs indicated that DFE IG independence, quality and use of resources could be strengthened by conversion and consolidation. DFE IGs responses to these same questions indicated that there would be no impact or that these elements would be weakened. The Presidential IGs indicated that several elements affecting the DFE IGs' quality of work could be strengthened through consolidation, including the ability to issue hard-hitting reports when necessary, to audit issues of high risk, to review issues across agencies, to get attention to recommendations made by the IGs, and to plan work. The IGs overwhelmingly responded that establishing the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency through legislation could make these organizations more effective, especially if provided a permanent funding source along with stated roles and responsibilities. Most IGs surveyed responded that the establishment of an IG office should be based on factors such as mission and risk, regardless of the size of an agency's budget.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: H.R. 22, introduced by Congressman McHugh on January 4, 2005, provides for the U.S. Postal Service IG to be appointed by the President.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider amending the IG Act to elevate the IGs at USPS, NSF, and FRB to Presidential status.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On April 10, 2014, the Subcommittee on Finanical and Contracting Oversight, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate, held a hearing to consider the consolidation of the IG oversight at small federal agencies. GAO testimony, GAO-14-503T, provided information on when IG consolidation would be appropriate which was considered by the subcommittee for possible draft legislation.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider amending the IG Act to consolidate DFE IGs with Presidential IGs based on related agency missions or where potential benefits to IG effectiveness can be shown.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress enacted PL 110-409, dtd., October 14, 2008 "Inspector General Reform Act of 2008". Section 11 of this law establishes by statute a "Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency". Among other things, this section discusses the establisment and mission of the council which includes addressing integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend individual Government agencies; increase the professionalism and effectiveness of personnel by developing policies, standards, and approaches to aid in the establishment of a well-trained and highly skilled workforce in the OIGs. Functions and duties of council include identifying, reviewing, and discussing areas of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Federal programs and operations with respect to fraud, waste, and abuse. The council will develop plans for coordinated, governmentwide activities that address problems and promote economy and efficiency in Federal programs and operations, including interagency and interentity audit, investigation, inspection, and evaluation programs and projects to deal efficiently and effectively with those problems concerning fraud and waste that exceed the capability or jurisdiction of an individual agency or entity.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider establishing an IG council by statute that includes stated roles and responsibilities, designated funding sources, and provisions for the coordination of annual, strategic, and ongoing plans with other federal oversight organizations, such as our office.


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