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In the United States, Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a generic term for the oversight division of a federal or state agency aimed at preventing inefficient or unlawful operations within their parent agency. Such offices are attached to many federal executive departments, independent federal agencies, as well as state and local governments. Each office includes an inspector general (or I.G.) and employees charged with identifying, auditing, and investigating fraud, waste, abuse, embezzlement and mismanagement of any kind within the executive department.
In the United States, other than the military departments, the first Office of Inspector General (OIG) was established by act of Congress in 1976 under the Department of Health and Human Services, to fight waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, and more than 100 other HHS programs. With approximately 1,600 employees, the DHSS-OIG performs audits, investigations, and evaluations, to establish policy recommendations for decision-makers and the public.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan fired 16 inspectors general when he became president, with his administration explaining that Reagan intended to hire his own people. After Congress objected, Reagan rehired 5 of the fired inspectors general.
In 2009, President Barack Obama dismissed Corporation for National and Community Service inspector general Gerald Walpin citing a lack of confidence in him. After Congress objected to the lack of explanation, the Obama administration cited that Walpin had shown "troubling and inappropriate conduct", and pointed to an incident that year where Walpin was "disoriented" during a board meeting of the Corporation, which led to the board asking for Walpin's dismissal. Walpin sued for a reinstatement, but the courts ruled against Walpin.
In 2020, President Donald Trump dismissed or replaced five inspectors general within six weeks. Two permanent inspectors general were dismissed, and three acting inspectors general were replaced. Just after firing intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson, Trump criticized Atkinson as having done a "terrible job": "took a fake report and he brought it to Congress", in reference to the whistleblower complaint of the Trump–Ukraine scandal, which was actually largely verified by other testimony and evidence. Trump also described Atkinson as "not a big Trump fan". Around a month before Trump replaced Christi Grimm as acting health inspector general, he had called her report of U.S. hospitals having shortages of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States as "wrong", "fake", and "her opinion", despite the report being based on a survey of 323 hospitals. Trump also questioned Grimm's motives for writing the report.
Federal offices of inspectors general
The Inspector General Act of 1978 created 12 departmental inspectors general. Thirty years later, in October 2008, the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 added IGs in various other areas. As of July 2014[update], there were 72 statutory IGs.
The offices employ special agents (criminal investigators, often armed) and auditors. In addition, federal offices of inspectors general employ forensic auditors, or "audigators," evaluators, inspectors, administrative investigators, and a variety of other specialists. Their activities include the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of the government programs and operations within their parent organizations. Office investigations may be internal, targeting government employees, or external, targeting grant recipients, contractors, or recipients of the various loans and subsidies offered through the thousands of federal domestic and foreign assistance programs. The Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 (IGRA) amended the 1978 act by increasing pay and various powers and creating the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).
Some inspectors general, the heads of the offices, are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. For example, both the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor and the inspector general of the U.S. Agency for International Development are presidentially appointed. The remaining inspectors general are designated by their respective agency heads, such as the U.S. Postal Service inspector general. Presidentially appointed IGs can only be removed, or terminated, from their positions by the President of the United States, whereas designated inspectors general can be terminated by the agency head. However, in both cases Congress must be notified of the termination, removal, or reassignment.
While the IG Act of 1978 requires that inspectors general be selected based upon their qualifications and not political affiliation, presidentially appointed inspectors general are considered political appointees and are often selected, if only in part and in addition to their qualifications, because of their political relationships and party affiliation. An example of the role political affiliation plays in the selection of an inspector general, and the resulting pitfalls, can be seen in the 2001 Republican appointment (and resignation under fire) of Janet Rehnquist (daughter of former Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist) to the post of inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
While all of the federal offices of inspectors general operate separately from one another, they share information and some coordination through the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. As of 2010[update], the CIGIE comprised 68 offices. In addition to their inspector general members, the CIGIE includes non-inspector general representatives from the federal executive branch, such as executives from the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Government Ethics, the Office of Special Counsel, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The CIGIE also provides specialized training to the inspector general community.
Further evidence of coordination between federal offices of inspectors general can be seen by the public through the offices' shared website, and the use of shared training facilities and resources, such as the Inspector General Criminal Investigator Academy (IGCIA), and their Inspector General Community Auditor Training Team (IGCATS), which are hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
Evidence of the offices' return on investment to taxpayers can be seen through their semi-annual reports to Congress, most of which are available on each office's website.
Since the post-9/11 enactment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, resulting in the amendment of the IG Act of 1978, Section 6e, most presidentially appointed IG special agents have had full law enforcement authority to carry firearms, make arrests, and execute search warrants. Prior to this time, most presidentially appointed IG and some designated IG special agents had the equivalent law enforcement authorities as a result of other statutes or annually required deputation by the U.S. Marshals Service. The 2002 amendment to the IG Act of 1978 made most deputation of presidentially appointed IG special agents unnecessary. Some designated IG special agents, however, still have full law enforcement authority today by virtue of this continued deputation. Some OIGs employ no criminal investigators and rely solely on administrative investigators, auditors, and inspectors.
Presidentially-appointed inspectors general
Vacancies and pending nominations
Announced nominations for unfilled PAS IGs awaiting confirmation in the Senate.
List of presidentially-appointed inspectors general
PAS IG History
Designated federal entity inspectors general
List of DFE IGs
Special inspectors general
|Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)||John Sopko||July 2, 2012||SIGAR|
|Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR)||Brian Miller||June 5, 2020|
|Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP)||Christy Romero||April 1, 2011
Acting: April 1, 2011 – February 1, 2012
Legislative agency inspectors general
|Architect of the Capitol (AOC-OIG)||Christopher Failla||April 17, 2017||AOC-OIG|
|Capitol Police (USCP-OIG)||Michael Bolton||March 30, 2018
Acting: March 30, 2018 – January 20, 2019
|Government Accountability Office (GAO-OIG)||Adam Trzeciak||January 13, 2013||GSA-OIG|
|Government Publishing Office (GPO-OIG)||Mike Leary||April 24, 2019||GPO-OIG|
|House of Representatives||Michael Ptasienski||October 2017
Acting: October 2017 – February 15, 2018
|Library of Congress (LOC-OIG)||Kurt Hyde||July 14, 2014||LOC-OIG|
Within the United States Armed Forces, the position of inspector general is normally part of the personal staff serving a general or flag officer in a command position. The inspector general's office functions in two ways. To a certain degree they are ombudsmen for their branch of service. However, their primary function is to ensure the combat readiness of subordinate units in their command.
An armed services inspector general also investigates noncriminal allegations and some specific criminal allegations, to include determining if the matter should be referred for criminal investigation by the service's criminal investigative agency.
The Air Force Inspector General Complaints Program was established to address the concerns of Air Force active duty, reserve, and Guard members, civilian employees, family members, and retirees, as well as the interest of the Air Force. One of the first responsibilities of the Air Force inspector general is to operate a credible complaints program that investigates personnel complaints: Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FWA) allegations; congressional inquiries; and issues involving the Air Force mission. Personnel complaints and FWA disclosures to the IG help commanders correct problems that affect the productivity, mission accomplishment, and morale of assigned personnel, which are areas of high concern to Air Force leaders at all levels.
|United States Air Force (USAF-OIG)||Sami Said||February 2019||USAF-OIG|
|United States Army (USA-OIG)||Les Smith||March 12, 2018||USA-OIG|
|Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA-OIG)||Kristi Waschull||July 13, 2014||DIA-OIG|
|National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA-OIG)||Cardell Richardson||NGA-OIG|
|National Reconnaissance Office (NRO-OIG)||Susan Gibson||September 26, 2016||NRO-OIG|
|National Security Agency and Central Security Service (NSA-OIG)||Robert Storch||January 11, 2018||NSA-OIG|
|United States Navy (USN-OIG)||Richard Snyder||August 1, 2018||USN-OIG|
- Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (concurrent with State Department)
- Coalition Provisional Authority
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- U.S. Information Agency
- Iraq Reconstruction (Special)
- Panama Canal Commission
- Resolution Trust Corporation
Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute enforcement
The DHSS-OIG develops and distributes resources to assist the health care industry in its efforts to comply with the nation's fraud and abuse laws and to educate the public about fraudulent schemes so they can protect themselves and report suspicious activities.
In recent years, the DHSS-OIG has made an effort to target hospitals and healthcare systems for Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute violations pertaining to the management of physician compensation arrangements. In 2015, a fraud alert was issued to publicize the OIG's intent to further regulate such non-compliance. In light of such efforts and consequent record-breaking settlements, healthcare experts have begun to call for the transition from paper-based physician time logging and contract management to automated solutions.
Inspectors general have also been criticized for being ineffective and persecuting whistleblowers rather than protecting them. One example is from the Securities and Exchange Commission OIG. In a 2011 article by Matt Taibbi, SEC whistleblowers said that complaining to the SEC OIG was "well-known to be a career-killer." Another example is from whistleblower Jesselyn Radack's book Canary in the Coalmine, in which she describes her experience complaining to the Department of Justice OIG; instead of helping her, the IG office helped the DOJ get her fired and restricted from practicing as a lawyer. Another example is from the Thomas Andrews Drake case, in which several complainants to the Department of Defense OIG over NSA's Trailblazer Project were later raided by the FBI and some threatened with criminal prosecution.
- Pub.L. 94–505
- "About DHSS-OIG". oig.hhs.gov.
- "Overview of the Inspectors General 1978-Present" (PDF). ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
- Kirby, Jen (May 28, 2020). "Trump's purge of inspectors general, explained". Vox. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- Quinn, Melissa (May 19, 2020). "The internal watchdogs Trump has fired or replaced". CBS News. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- Baker, Peter (April 4, 2020). "Trump Proceeds With Post-Impeachment Purge Amid Pandemic". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 5, 2020. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
- Cook, Nancy (June 11, 2020). "Sideshow Don: Trump pursues a non-virus agenda". Politico. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
- Stracqualursi, Veronica (May 2, 2020). "Trump names his pick for HHS inspector general after criticizing acting official over coronavirus report". CNN. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- Robertson, Lori. "The HHS Inspector General Report". Factcheck.org. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- "Inspector General Act of 1978" (PDF). ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 18, 2011.
- "Federal domestic and foreign assistance programs". Archived from the original on January 16, 2004.
- "Inspector General Reform Act of 2008". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010.
- "Stimulus Bill and Strings: Massive Federal Spending Will Be Accompanied by Increased Inspectors General Oversight and Investigations". Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
- "H.R.928 - Improving Government Accountability Act". Archived from the original on April 30, 2010 – via OpenCongress.
- Schwellenbach, Nick (June 22, 2011). "POGO Obtains Pentagon Inspector General Report Associated With NSA Whistleblower Tom Drake". pogo.typepad.com. Project on Government Oversight.
- Radack, Jesselyn (June 11, 2011). "Too Classified to Try Myth in Failed Drake Prosecution". DailyKos.
- "Inspector General Historical Data – Federal Departments" (PDF). ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. May 17, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 13, 2009.
- "ECIE Members". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on March 24, 2005.
- "Home Page". www.uspsoig.gov. USPS Office of Inspector General. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- "Executive Order 12805 – Integrity and Efficiency in Federal Programs". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. May 11, 1992. Archived from the original on March 5, 2005.
- Margasak, Larry. "HHS Chief Janet Rehnquist Will Resign". phillyburbs.com. The Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 24, 2005.
- "Office of Inspector General - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services". oig.hhs.gov.
- "President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency – Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on March 5, 2005.
- "President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency Members". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on March 5, 2005.
- "IGNET - Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
- "Inspector General Criminal Investigator Academy". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008.
- "Inspector General Community Auditor Training". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008.
- "Inspector General Directory/Homepages". ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. Archived from the original on March 8, 2005.
- "Homeland Security Act of 2002" (PDF).
- "Inspector General Vacancy Tracker". Project on Government Oversight. May 5, 2020.
- After the removal announcement is made by Trump, the incumbent IG is put on leave for 30 days before formally leaving office.
- "Inspector General Historical Data Appointed by the President and Confirmed by the Senate" (PDF). ignet.gov. Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. July 25, 2017.
- "Inspector General Historical Data DFE and Legislative Branch Members" (PDF). Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
- "Office of the House of Representatives Inspector General" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. November 15, 2018 – via Federational of American Scientists.
- Nicolls, Boone (2007). Airman's Guide. Stackpole Books. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-8117-3397-7.
- Ellison, Ayla (January 8, 2015). "4 trends in the current Stark Law enforcement climate". Becker's Hospital Review.
- "Fraud Alert: Physician Compensation Arrangements May Result in Significant Liability" (PDF). Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. June 9, 2015.
- Peace, Gail. "Why it takes 60 minutes or less to find a Stark Law violation at a hospital". Becker's Hospital Review.
- Taibbi, Matt (August 17, 2011). "Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?". Rolling Stone.
- Radack, Jesselyn (2006). Canary in the Coalmine. ISBN 1-4276-0974-8.
- Mayer, Jane (May 2011). "The Secret Sharer". The New Yorker.
- Hilliard, Nadia (2017). The Accountability State: US Federal Inspectors General and the Pursuit of Democratic Integrity. Studies in Government and Public Policy. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 9780700623976. JSTOR j.ctt1p6qpbk. OCLC 1005678179.