Inspectors General Wanted

President Obama faces another one of those deals that's both a big challenge and a great opportunity.

He must fill as many as 10 inspectors general jobs. The Pentagon, Education Department, State Department and other agencies all are in need of the IG watchdogs.

Finding the right people for these posts is no easy matter. They have be aggressive, determined and fair in their quest to prevent or weed out fraud, waste and abuse in federal spending. They also have to be able to guide others to do the same -- despite criticism from some quarters that that IG's are too negative or don't understand procurement sufficiently well.

The last few years have not been especially good ones for IGs, some of whom became embroiled in scandals or failed to pursue wrongdoing very aggressively.

Anyway, this came to mind after we read a piece in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel called "Meaner Than Junkyard Dogs - What Will Obama Do With His Inspectors General?"

The writer is John Sopko, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP who worked closely with inspectors general while working on oversight and accountability issues as a Hill staffer for two decades.

"Historically the IGs have been one of the strongest tools for any administration in exposing problems with programs and processes. Not surprisingly, Obama reached out to one of the most aggressive and well-respected members of the IG community, former Interior Department IG Earl Devaney, to head the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT Board)."

"Obama's choice of Devaney provides an indication of the quality of the nominees the president will be seeking in filling these important slots. In light of the recent tepid reaction to Obama's first attempt to cut the budget, one can only expect that Obama will have further incentive to pick not ten lap dogs but rather mean junkyard dogs who will follow his directions to change the way business is carried out in Washington."

By the way, here's more about Devaney, a former Secret Service agent who helped uncover "the shady dealings of disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff," among other things.

By Robert O'Harrow |  June 1, 2009; 3:32 PM ET Inspectors General
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Hey man I have renamed your "blog" : Bobby's Bulletin Board because all you seem to do is advertise the work of others. Meanwhile, I wanted to point you to an excellent piece by David Carr (NYT June 1)the Media Equation that you particulary need to be aware of. Carr continues to expertly chronicle the profound woes of print journalism with massive layoffs,buyouts and downsizing.In particular he is speaking about the massive layoffs at the Star-Ledger and adds,in a relevant reference how even very experienced journalists like Tom Hester is thankful that he was working and that he didn't seem to mind that he is being paid exactly nothing for his lifetime of experience as a print journalist. It is a tough time to be a jstaff writer but,hey, it beats working for a living.

Posted by: chuckaluk66 | June 1, 2009 5:05 PM

I had to chuckle when I saw the name of the new org, the RAT Board. IG's have enough of a negative reputation, is the name RAT really a good idea?

Posted by: GatorEngineer1998 | June 3, 2009 9:04 AM

I am retiring in January, 2010. I would love to return as a member of an IG team, as I spent the first few years of my career as the go-between who interfaced with the IG when they performed audits on my Agency. I even filled in for one of their auditors when they didn't have enough team members to do a complete audit. I think they all have a bad reputation, but in essence, they really do perform a "beneficial to the Agency" service. It isn't always a negative, and in many cases serves to make an Agency stronger. Those were the days!

Posted by: pmaley | June 3, 2009 9:21 AM

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