President Obama has notified Congress that he will dismiss the inspector general charged with overseeing the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the AmeriCorps program.
"It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general," Obama wrote in letters delivered to lawmakers Thursday. "That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general."
But Obama's decision to terminate Inspector General Gerald Walpin earned the ire of a top Republican advocate for federal inspectors general, who called the dismissal of the AmeriCorps watchdog a blow to the independence of the nation's IGs.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote the White House back, pointing out that Walpin has not come under criticism by the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which oversees the conduct of federal IGs.
"[Walpin] has identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds either wasted outright or spent in violation of established guidelines," Grassley wrote. "In other words, it appears he has been doing his job."
A White House spokesman declined to explain the dismissal. "For obvious reasons, we won't get into details of a personnel decision like this, but I can tell you that the president lost confidence in Mr. Walpin's performance," he said. "The president will appoint a replacement in whom he has full confidence as the corporation carries out its important mission."
An acting IG was named Thursday, according to the agency Web site.
The Inspector General Reform Act enacted last year dictates that the president must notify Congress of his intention to dismiss an IG 30 days before the termination takes effect.
Grassley questioned whether Obama complied with the law, citing news reports indicating that Walpin may have received a White House ultimatum Wednesday night directing him to resign within an hour.
The White House disputed those reports, saying Walpin was not fired, but has been suspended with pay.
Walpin, appointed by former President George W. Bush and sworn into office in January 2007, recently penned a report questioning the costs of an AmeriCorps program operated by the Research Foundation for the City University of New York.