President Barack Obama’s failure to fill numerous vacancies of chief government watchdogs in key cabinets has rankled Democrat and Republican lawmakers who say the posts are critical to investigate fraud and uncover billions in wasted taxpayer dollars.
Inspectors general (IG) are independent government operators who oversee the efficiency of federal agencies and conduct crucial and sometimes high-profile investigations every year that are reported to Congress for oversight and the Justice Department for prosecution.
Lawmakers are growing impatient with these rare, prolonged vacancies at the Pentagon, State, Interior, Homeland Security and Labor Departments – five of the 14 cabinets with inspector posts appointed by the president. Officials acting as the temporary inspector, in some cases for years, need permanency in order to carry out politically sensitive investigations, lawmakers said.
“We recognize that acting inspectors general and career staff carry on the work of their offices during a vacancy, often ably so,” said the Jan. 24 letter demanding the positions be filled, authored by Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and signed by an additional seven Democrats and five Republicans.