Bush Scandals List

326. Inspector Generals, a broken system

On February 28, 2008, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) issued a report on the Inspector Generals. It found that 60% of IGs appointed under Bush had prior political experience but only 20% had previous experience in auditing. This is the reverse of the situation under Clinton where 60% of IGs had experience in auditing and less than 25% had previous political experience. Civilian IGs come in two flavors, those appointed by the President and approved by Congress and those appointed by agency heads. Both types are overseen by the Deputy Director of the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) currently Clay Johnson III. Johnson’s philosophy is that “Surprises are to be avoided” and that IGs are expected to work with their agencies. The problem is, of course, that IGs are supposed to be independent monitors of them. Aside from Johnson’s input into the situation, the goal of IG independence seldom happens for various reasons. First, those IGs who are appointed by agency heads aren’t independent by definition. Second, even IGs who are Presidentially appointed may have their independence curbed by budget constraints as has happened at the State Department over and above the antics of Cookie Krongard (see item 251) or by a lack of its own attorney as is the case with the Pentagon’s IG which uses a deputy to the DOD’s in house General Counsel. Third, some IGs like NASA’s Robert Cobb (see item 149) identify so strongly with their agencies that they have abdicated any real oversight or independence. The result is that the IG system does not work, but then this Administration was never into oversight into what it was doing anyway.

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