According to the government website ignet.gov:
The concept of a statutory Inspector General (IG) was broadly introduced to the civilian side of the Federal government by the Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act ) . The original Inspectors General (IGs) were established in 12 Federal agencies. The concept has proved so successful that today, there are 72 statutory IGs across the Federal government .
Statutory IGs are structurally unique within the Federal government. The stated purpose of the IG Act is to create independent and objective units within each agency whose duty it is to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the programs and operations of that agency. To this end, each IG is responsible for conducting audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of its agency, and providing leadership and coordination and recommending policies for, and to conduct, supervise, or coordinate other activities for the purpose of promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness and preventing and detecting fraud and abuse in those programs and operations. Importantly, each IG is also to keep the agency head and the Congress “fully and currently informed” about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of agency programs and operations. The IG Act contains a variety of statutory guarantees of Office of Inspector General (OIG ) independence, designed to ensure the objectivity of OIG work and to safeguard against efforts to compromise that objectivity or hinder OIG operations. It is these guarantees of independence that make statutory IGs unique.
Now that you have read the above, there is a thought that might cross your mind, “Why didn’t the IG alert Congress to the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was using a private computer server and not properly archiving emails as government records?”
Bloomberg.com posted an article yesterday that provides an explanation.
The article reports:
For five years, including all of Clinton’s time as secretary, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General never had a confirmed inspector. Instead, it was lead by acting inspector Harold W. Geisel, a former ambassador who was accused of being too cozy to agency leadership by transparency groups like the Project on Government Oversight. Throughout the first half of President Obama’s first term, the absence of a State Department Inspector General while internal scandals and Benghazi rocked the department drew bipartisan criticism.
“For no one to raise concerns, it’s almost impossible to believe,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director for POGO (Project on Government Oversight).
The article explains that POGO has highlighted the frequency of vacancies in the Inspectors General offices. The fact that the State Department had no IG during Hillary Clinton’s term is what allowed the use of a private computer service and the lack of proper archiving of records.
The article at Bloomberg concludes:
By September 2013, several months after Clinton left State, the department finally had a permanent inspector, and the department recently released a report documenting how few e-mails the State Department has saved for government records. But the long-time gap, as well as the ones at other agencies, raise questions about what other problems aren’t being investigated.
“If there was any confidence that those were robust office then people within the agency or others would have turned to them,” Brian said. “I have to believe that at some point we’ll find out that there were people who were saying ‘Why am I getting this weird email from what should obviously be state.gov?’”
Just another brick in the wall.