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Highlights

GAO discussed H.R. 4054, which would establish statutory inspectors general (IG) at several agencies. GAO found that: (1) the Inspector General Act of 1978 established IG to combat fraud, waste, and abuse and to correct agency organizational and procedural deficiencies; (2) H.R. 4054 would amend the act to establish IG in the Departments of Justice and the Treasury, and in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); (3) Justice and Treasury were the only federal departments without statutory IG; (4) Justice lacked central coordination of its audit and investigative units and procedures to ensure that the units advised the Attorney General or Congress of their findings; (5) Treasury's IG had audit and investigative responsibility over less than 20 percent of Treasury's budget and limited audit capability over Treasury programs and operations; (6) Justice and Treasury audit and investigative units lacked organizational independence, which inhibited them from making objective assessments; (7) Justice opposed the establishment of IG because it would superimpose the authority of IG over that of the Attorney General, jeopardize ongoing external investigations, and require disclosure of classified information; (8) Treasury opposed IG because its decisions involving economic, tax, and monetary policy would be subject to IG review and IG would have the statutory authority to interfere with ongoing investigations; and (9) the FEMA nonstatutory IG was transferred to another position after conducting sensitive investigations involving high-level FEMA officials. GAO believes that the legislation would help ensure that both Congress and agency heads received independent assessments of federal programs and operations.

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