Several Major Agencies Still Lack Permanent Watchdogs

John Roth was confirmed as Homeland Security Department Inspector General last week. John Roth was confirmed as Homeland Security Department Inspector General last week. Charles Dharapak/AP

The Senate’s recent vote confirming John Roth as Homeland Security Department watchdog represents solid progress in governmentwide oversight, according to an advocacy nonprofit that tracks inspectors general.

But the number of IG vacancies is still at nine, with “unreasonable vacancies” at the Interior Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to Joe Newman, communications director for the Project on Government Oversight. “The Interior vacancy is now in its 1,845th day, while USAID is on day 881. So, there's still a need for us and the media to raise awareness about these vacancies,” he told Government Executive.

POGO’s IG tracking tool, launched in Feb. 2012, has shown the vacancies as high as 12 and as low as seven across the federal government, with as many as seven agencies maintaining vacancies for more than a year.

The group discourages reliance on acting IGs. “Having a permanent inspector general in place is critical for effective oversight,” Newman added. “POGO has long believed that permanent IGs are more effective than acting and temporary IGs because they have greater job security. With job security comes a greater degree of independence, which is necessary for aggressive oversight.”

Roth’s arrival ends three years without a permanent IG at Homeland Security, one of the largest and most complex federal departments.

During Roth’s confirmation hearing, he was warned that he would face an uphill challenge of reconciling “warring camps” divided in their loyalties to then-acting DHS IG Charles Edwards, who was accused of misconduct, including favoritism in hiring. Edwards resigned in December.

After the Senate confirmed Roth by voice vote on March 6, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, praised his qualifications and said, “In an agency as large and important as the Department of Homeland Security, the office of the inspector general is a critical ally in the fight to ensure that taxpayer funds are protected and to deter or punish possible impropriety. It is vital to have a permanent, Senate confirmed leader in this office to ensure that it has the authority and legitimacy needed to conduct comprehensive investigations.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the panel’s ranking member, said,  “Roth will be a valuable asset for whistleblowers, the committee, and Congress alike in uncovering waste, fraud, and abuse within the department. I look forward to building off his findings with legislation that fixes the problems at DHS.”   

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.