IGs Band Together for a Common Website to Share Results of Investigations
Project eases access to reports governmentwide while promoting watchdogs’ work.
Monday morning brought the launch of the first-ever one-stop shopping website for users seeking inspector general reports.
Oversight.gov, announced by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, brings together past and brand-new reports from the 73 agency IGs (minus a half-dozen for the intelligence community, whose reports are often classified).
“The public should have easy access to information about their government, and Oversight.gov is a big step in this direction,” said CIGIE Chair Michael Horowitz, who is also the Justice Department’s inspector general. “This new website makes the work of the IG community more accessible, and it demonstrates the critical role inspectors general play in combatting waste, fraud, and abuse, and holding government officials accountable for their management of taxpayer money.”
Not only are links to some 5,877 IG reports now searchable on the new site, users can sign up for a new Twitter notification of reports as they are released. Users can now sort, search and filter the site’s database by themes, such as cybersecurity or whistleblowers.
Oversight.gov goes beyond being a mere reference work for reports to actually promoting the accomplishments of IGs, whose funding by Congress is viewed by many watchdogs as insufficient. “For the third consecutive year, the IG community identified over $20 billion in potential savings of federal tax dollars as part of their comprehensive efforts to eliminate waste in federal programs,” the site notes, including $25 billion in fiscal 2017. The reports remain available on the individual agency IG websites as well.
The new site was assembled by a working group under the direction of Tammy Whitcomb, acting IG for the U.S. Postal Service and chair of CIGIE’s information technology committee. The group used the Postal Service’s IG website structure as a starting point. “We really benefited from having other IGs in the room” to get the business rules aligned, she said during an appearance on the “Government Matters” show on WJLA TV this weekend. The resulting software allows new reports to be automatically uploaded in two to three minutes “with minimal manual effort,” she said.
CIGIE’s new site was the result of volunteer efforts, not appropriated funds, added Horowitz. Next steps include seeking user feedback and requests for “funding to build it out,” he said. Eventually, Oversight.gov could include a governmentwide list of all IG recommendations to agencies that remain open similar to what is currently assembled by the Government Accountability Office. The IGs, he suggested, hope that congressional appropriators and the Office of Management and Budget take note.