Wanted: Inspectors General, and A Congress Willing to Confirm Them
The Center for Public Integrity has a cri de coeur up on the need for a fully confirmed and in-place corps of Inspectors General. I agree with everything they're saying, and I'm glad they're acknowledging the glacial pace of the nominations and confirmation process more generally.
But I think it's important to include some context here. According to the appointments the Washington Post is tracking, only 70.9 percent of the positions Obama has to fill are filled with confirmed appointees. 79.5 percent of Inspectors General positions are filled with permanent officials, according to the Center's own statistics. So watchdogs are actually doing somewhat better than federal positions as a whole in terms of getting appointed and confirmed.
And I also think it's worth interrogating the idea that career officials in acting positions are actually less stable than confirmed people, given the scandals that have rocked the IG community, and that the Center points out. I think it would actually make a lot of sense to have career folks hold IG slots for set term limits. But then, of course, as the Government Accountability Office proves, when it comes to filling someone when that term is up or that person steps down, the molasses-like pace of the appointment and confirmation process is still going to prevent a smooth transition.