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Inspectors General may sometimes be the fox guarding the hen house, but they're all that we have, and once in a while they work. An Inspector General can save taxpayers billions by investigating whistleblower claims of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement or illegality.

The recent the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal demonstrates the need for IGs, which by law agencies are supposed to have in place. WaPo reports that while testifying before congress yesterday,

Inspector General Brian Miller told a congressional committee scrutinizing an $823,000 Las Vegas conference that his office has asked the Justice Department to investigate “all sorts of improprieties” surrounding a 2010 event, “including bribes, including possible kickbacks.”
WaPo reports that the Las Vegas conference for GSA employees was an extravagant affair put on by expensive contractors - most of whom were awarded no-bid contracts:  
Taxpayers picked up the tab for a mind reader, bicycles for a team-building exercise and a slew of private parties at the conference. . . . the freewheeling spending, which included poolside entertainment by a clown and a “Red Carpet” talent show. . .
Yet despite that the GSA IG is investigating waste and fraud like taxpayer-funded clowns (no, I don't think that's referring to Congress), there are currently 10 Inspector General positions vacant at other federal agencies, including the ones where we most need them, like the Department of State and the Department of Defense.

The ten vacancies are down from 12 in February 2012, so many that the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) launched a web page to track Inspector General vacancies. The current vacancies include critical agencies such as the Department of State, Department of Labor, and the Department of Defense.

Until recently, the Justice Department IG position had been vacant for more than year.
And this vacancy despite the fact that the former DOJ IG reported on massive waste, mismanagement, and questionably-legal behavior in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) use of PATRIOT Act power such as the use of National Security Letters, which allow the FBI to obtain on U.S. citizens without Court oversight.

Inspectors General are not a substitute for Court or congressional oversight, nor are they a substitute meaningful legislative whistleblower protections. But Inspectors General can provide critical oversight within Executive agencies that, while not lessening the need for external checks, can use their investigatory powers to drastically reduce waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement or illegality within our government. For that reason, filling vacant IG positions should be a much higher priority. In this economy, taxpayers do not have money to waste on clowns and pool parties.

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Comment Preferences

  •  big babies. (5+ / 0-)

    So they can't do their jobs unless they're "entertained" by jugglers and clowns?  

    What next, they throw tantrums unless they get lolly pops?  

    Fire the lot of 'em.  Whoever put together those extravagant displays of sheer squanderousness, deserves to be sent back to the private sector where they can do it on stockholders' dollars, rather than on taxpayers' dollars.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 05:41:18 AM PDT

  •  So, do I have this right? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While they are trying to blame this mess on the President, it has more to do with republicans blocking nominations? Why are there vacancies?

    Oh for crying out loud!

    by 4mygirls on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 05:41:52 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps the worse aspect of the GSA scandal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark, blueoregon

    is that it strongly indicates a pervasive culture of fraud and government waste that is endemic in Washington. The current, sickening episode of waste didn't start yesterday, it was the endproduct of years of a government culture of corruption that took years to develop. And once again our dysfunctional Congress will hold hearings after hearings with no discernible change when the hearings are all done.

  •  Who hired Neely? (0+ / 0-)

    Was he a Bush appointee or Obama's?

  •  Thanks for the diary. (0+ / 0-)

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

    by blueoregon on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 07:25:40 AM PDT

  •  Not just an IG or GSA problem (0+ / 0-)

    Problems with hiring are pervasive starting with staffing positions required to initiate hiring.  And if you can't hire you also can't find a contract officer to contract for help.

    Plus boomers are retiring in droves.

  •  The Thugs have blocked appointments... (0+ / 0-)

    The agency responsible for the notorious "gun-walking" kerfuffle has been run by an acting administrator...

    Don't know how much Thugs blocking appointments has to do with this story, but I assume it's involved....

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:22:52 AM PDT

  •  Despite or because of? (0+ / 0-)
    Until recently, the Justice Department IG position had been vacant for more than year.
    And this vacancy despite the fact that the former DOJ IG reported on massive waste, mismanagement, and questionably-legal behavior in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) use of PATRIOT Act power such as the use of National Security Letters, which allow the FBI to obtain on U.S. citizens without Court oversight.
    Sorry to have to ask that question, but this administration's embrace of government surveillance makes me doubt that it was happy about investigation of "questionably-legal behavior" in the use of National Security Letters.
  •  You Never Turned Around to see the Frowns (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Free Jazz at High Noon

    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

    I think somebody said that.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 09:54:54 AM PDT

  •  For all the sturm and drang about the waste (0+ / 0-)

    with the GSA party hearty junket in Las Vegas, consider that Leon Panetta as the Secretary of Defense goes home every few weekends at a taxpayer cost of $32K and that adds up to well over $800K to date.

    Check out this article for the details.

    In light of the expenses involving clowns and jugglers for entertaining the GSA troops, the optics for Panetta do not look good.

    And yet every year multiple tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer monies (adding up to several hundreds of billions a year) are fraudulently spent and wasted on national security and defense, as well as all manner of other government programs.

    As just one example, the very troubled Department of Defense F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is THE most expensive US government arms (err, jobs program) ever at a cool $1.5 TRILLION dollars over its anticipated life span.

    Where are the investigations and the outcry for these truly gargantuan and colossal abuses of federal dollars?

    As embarrassing as the GSA Las Vegas caper becomes, it conveniently obscures the 20 March 2012 report issued by the GAO that raised SERIOUS questions about viability of the F-35 program.

    "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - George Orwell

    by Thomas Drake on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 12:31:15 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for the link to POGO (0+ / 0-)

    Project on Government Oversight seems quite a worthwhile organization.

    The link just above goes to their home web site, and you can sign up for their newsletter on it.

    Your link in the diary went straight to a page about Inspector General vacancies.  I didn't find a link to the home page or a newsletter sign-up from there, so I chipped in a small contribution.  I figured that would get me on their e-mail list.  (If it doesn't they need lessons on how to run and fund a nonprofit organization.)

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 01:48:56 PM PDT

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