Obama picks Afghanistan IG with years of federal experience

Kabul Kabul Musadeq Sadeq/AP

President Obama has announced he will appoint Washington law firm partner John Sopko as special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, a position that’s remained open for more than 470 days.

Sopko is currently at the private Akin Gump firm, but he brings more than eight years of experience within the federal government to the demanding watchdog role. The Case Western Reserve University School of Law graduate left a prosecutor position in Dayton, Ohio, to join the Justice Department’s organized crime and racketeering section as special attorney, where he stayed from 1978 to 1982. In addition, he held various director, secretary and counsel roles in the Commerce Department between 1999 and 2003.

From 2005 to 2007 Sopko was deputy director of the Homeland Security Institute, a federally funded research center operated on behalf of the Homeland Security Department.

In addition to stints with the executive branch, Sopko spent time on Capitol Hill in several capacities, with his longest tenure being 15 years (1982 to 1997) as the deputy chief counsel at the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations. His most recent public position was as the chief counsel for oversight and investigations for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he held from 2007 to 2009.

Inspector general appointments -- or, rather, the lack of them -- have been a major point of contention for Congress lately. House Republicans recently criticized President Obama for leaving watchdog positions vacant, some for months or years according to the Project on Government Oversight.

In a statement Thursday, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., praised the appointment while lamenting the wait time.

“The White House took too long to fill this critical position, but now that we have someone ready to jump in, it offers us a new chance at accountability,” McCaskill said. “As we work to cut spending and rein in the national debt, billions of taxpayer dollars have been lost in Afghanistan through waste, fraud, and abuse -- and that’s why it’s so important that the taxpayers have a dedicated set of eyes and ears over the massive amounts of money being spent there.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.