Senator Demands Disclosure of Inspectors General Salaries

Flickr user Senate Democrats

File this one under the rubric that salary information wants to be free.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., on Tuesday assigned the leader of the inspectors general council with delivering salary information on his counterparts, warning that some are earning twice what others earn for performing less work and possibly going soft on their bosses.

“Would you be surprised to find out that there are inspectors general at small agencies making twice as much as the four of you?” McCaskill asked a panel of IGs at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Why wouldn’t it be a scandal? Why in the world would the inspector general at the Farm Credit Agency be making twice as much as the inspector general at [the Health and Human Services Department]?”

Michael Horowitz, the new chairman of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, said he didn’t have the information, and would get back to her.

The hearing came as the senators are readying legislation that would reform the IG community by requiring more cooperation by agencies in handing over requested documents, more information sharing for use in data mining to ferret out fraud, speedier ethics investigations of IGs and an appropriation for the council.

The ethical problem, McCaskill said, arises because only 30 of the 72 inspectors general are presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed, leaving dozens who are “designated federal entities” appointed by their own agency heads. “We have two completely different animals,” McCaskill said.

A previous move to end bonuses for some IGs meant that Congress “inadvertently put them in a situation where their salaries are now adjusted according to the people who work at their agencies,” McCaskill said. “You have an inspector general who makes what the boss makes. If the boss gets a bonus, [the IG gets a bonus too]. Now, how likely is it that an inspector general is going to be exposing that the boss has problems. That’s absolutely unconscionable within an auditing community.”

Some IGs, particularly for the financial regulators, make $320,000 or $270,000, McCaskill said, eliciting an admission from Patrick O’Carroll, IG for the Social Security Administration, that he earns $170,000.

McCaskill also blasted the non-presidentially nominated IGs for working less hard, for outsourcing their financial audit statements and not adhering to IG standards or being peer-reviewed. “We’re trying to figure out what’s rotten in Denmark,” she said. “We need a whole hearing on this.”

(Image via Flickr user Senate Democrats)

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