IGs, Oversight, Reform

The Senate has approved a measure to bolster the roles of inspectors general, the figures in government who have perhaps the main role in providing eyes and ears for American taxpayers.

The Inspector General Reform Act of 2007 would ensure that the IG jobs are filled with qualified folks who can operate independently of the agencies they're responsible for overseeing. Under the legislation, the IG reports and audits would be more readily available to the public.

Sounds like a nice deal for we the people. Does it have a chance of working? A lot of people in and out of the government would like to stop the scrutiny and heat that aggressive IG's bring to bear. I've even heard former government officials -- one who speaks almost in oracular terms about procurement -- say that IG oversight impedes the creativity of government workers. I'm trying to empathize with that one.

Sponsors of the legislation include senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), Susan Collins (R-Me) and Joseph Lieberman (ID-Ct).

"If we're not looking for ways to cut down on government waste, we aren't doing our job here in Congress," McCaskill said in a press release. "This bill is key to preserving the IGs' role as government watchdogs and making sure they can do their job of rooting out waste in this country."

"This bill is good government legislation at its best. It will strengthen the role of inspectors general as an independent investigative force, making sure that taxpayers' dollars are spent efficiently and effectively while also guaranteeing that IGs themselves be held accountable," Lieberman said.

I'm not sure most people understand how close to the center of government IGs operate. They need robust support and plenty of room to dig deep on behalf of taxpayers.

Or, when it comes to contracting, we could allow the companies to police themselves, as some proponents of procurement reform have suggested.

The magic of the market, I think they call it.

By Robert O'Harrow |  April 25, 2008; 9:31 AM ET Inspectors General
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Comments

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I retired from Government Service a long time ago and there were people recommending this type of oversight then. But the bureaucratic power brokers were so successful with their pleas to the politicians that it quickly died.
I suspect that same type of opposition is present now. Whether we want to believe it or not there are pseudo"managers" who will do almost anything to hang on to their ill-gotten gains and with an election year present it does not take much to impress some of their political friends that close
scrutiny is a threat instead of a promise.

Posted by: Man From Mo | April 25, 2008 3:44 PM

it is tragic that even US democracy, badly encumbered for the last 7 years, is allegedly oiled by corruption. Look at the campaign-finance scandals and the conduct of some candidates.
It is unsavoury to get to know how much influence is wielded by MNCs and the rich over the Administrations, particularly the current one. President Eisenhower, being an honorable man, had decried the in his Farewell speech in 1960 the injurious meddling of the 'Military Industrial Complex' in the policy making of the state.
unfortunately much dirty water has flown down the Mississipi river and US can't claim clean politics or Governance. The worst blows to her image, goodwill and power have been administered by the current Adminstartion under the ill-advised guidance of the neo-cons. God help American democracy with or without the Inspectors-General as the peopl tend to be,generally, naive, uninformed and credulous.

Posted by: booglede | April 26, 2008 1:26 AM

We may be approaching a crisis situation with this govt.-contracting stuff. In a real market, consumers have the power to just stop paying, causing things to clean themselves up real quick. But here the consumer(s) have in a way fused with, or been infiltrated by, the suppliers. One approach is just start closing off the gushing spigot. We may bleed to death otherwise. I appreciate the mention of Ike above: boy, he sure was prescient and it isn't only the military industrial complex (MIC) nowadays: look at the Katrina debacle, where no one really knows exactly where the $125 billion went.

Posted by: Browne | April 27, 2008 2:07 PM

O'Harrow says "I've even heard former government officials -- -- say that IG oversight impedes the creativity of government workers. I'm trying to empathize with that one."

Please try harder. Too few IG audits adequately acknowledge the sometimes very different contexts in which government officials must operate compared to the situations envisioned when the applicable rules were drawn up. Wartime contracting for emergency services can't wait for a new set of rules to be established, yet the "green eyeshade" audit approach too often ignores such exigencies, thereby stifling future creativity.

Posted by: seadog | April 28, 2008 9:44 AM

I totally agree with seadog. having worked for several federal agencies and contracting firms, the folks who take on IG positions seldom trouble themselves to clearly define the issue that required the contract prior to their investigation, nor do they research the sequential events that lead to decisions. Their reports are often quoted in the press but totally inaccurate and based on naive and uninformed appraisals of initiatives. They too have become highly politicized during the past 8 years. Political appointees are more valued for loyalty than their intelligence

Posted by: beenthere | May 1, 2008 11:33 AM

The office of Inspector General is completely useless without reform. As a WW 11 military widow of USAF M/Sgt Rudy L. Vance, since 1979 I am one of many military widows who tried to get Dept of VA reform since 1979, with no results. The Public is unaware that the Dept of VA not only discriminates in benefits and denies care, it doesn't even keep medical records of Vets under their VA Hospital care. My husband had spine surgery for "Pott's Disease "in the VA Hospital in 1961 and died in their hospital in 1979 because they kept telling him he had arthritis until he died of TB of the bone negligence which diseases both lungs.
The knew he had Malaria in India, WW 11 and they also know if Malaria is not cured in 5 days the victim will die of Lung cancer after they age enough to weaken the immune system because UCLA School of Medicine won a NObel Prize for their research on the relationshio between lung cancer and Malaria at the time my husband was a victim of both.
Whem my husband was a victim of Malaria on dutyin China, Burman, India his outfit had no doctor and no access to any medical help eaxcept pain pills for Malaria which are wasted ...and he came home with Malaria in 1945 which led to his fatal illnes sof lung cancer after the Walter Reed Army Hospital failed to treat him for Malaria etc.
So we need total reform of military medical care and benefits, because after his death in 1979 in a VA hospital with 20 years service, I , his widowed wife of 34 years am still waiting for my past due VA widow's benefit due at his death Sept 4, 1979. He served with honor from Jan 1942 and was retired 1962...and had surgery in a VA hospital so how can they claim they have no record.
The public needs to know the Dept of VA does not pay unless you are a member of the VA excutive staff....
I had to support myself past the age of 70 with many health problems because VA never honored any claim filed even by the American Legio, VFW etc. so if VA does not honor any of our Veterans Groups who do they honor and why does congress leave all military vets and widows out on a limb while they enjoy so many perks and benefits with no delay.
Please get the word out, VA does not pay under the current administration and I can prove it...Mrs. Rudy L. Vance, wWW 11 widow of USAF M/Sgt Rudy L. Vance, DID Sept 4, 1979 Wadsworth VA Hospital , California....
To mak ematters worse, they caused my husband's early death by telling him his pain was caused by arthritis until he lost so much blood we discovered he had a tumor on his lung that bursted from the exercise they made him take with no xray to verify his pain was a lung tumor attached to a nerve on his heart and lung that ran through his shoulder.
So there is either a problem with malpractice or negligence in VA hospitals and my husband's death was caused by their failure to treat him for TB of the bone he contracted on duty in India where millions die of TB and Malaria, after they knew he caught both diseases on duty in Assam, India 1944-1954 without treatment.
How many troops will face the fatal illnes that killed him from Iraq, because third world countries have so much contaminated water and sewers all our troops are in danger on duty in any of them and Iraq is no exception. Thank you for interest in the welfare of our lost soldiers by VA and Military gross negligence and now, I , hhis widow, no pay VA benefits since 1979 ....Payson, Arizona widow
Feel free to call me at: 928-474-4857

Posted by: Willowdean Vance | May 7, 2008 1:34 AM

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