What is an Inspector General?
The high profile IG report about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email situation is due to come out today around noon. It will lay out the inspector general's findings about a host of different things including the conduct of James Comey and Andrew McCabe. But what is an inspector general? Here’s a few things to know:
The IG Office is an independent internal watchdog that functions very similar to that of an internal affairs department at a police department or an auditor.
This office is charged with overseeing government agencies’ spending of taxpayer dollars and overall management of the agency. A lot of their time is devoted to pouring over spreadsheets. They ensure that the money goes where it is supposed to go and laws are followed correctly. The office functions independently from the agency and is also apolitical in theory. The interpretation of the reports issued are often when political spin enters the situation. Investigations can be conducted when waste fraud or mismanagement is suspected. They have clearly defined jurisdictions. They are only allowed to investigate current employees, only items within their own department and have no subpoena power.
There are a total of 72 IG Offices throughout the federal government.
Each department has its own IG. Bigger departments, like the Department of Defense, will have an overall IG with additional IG’s in different areas within the department. Each are housed within the same building as the department they oversee. They report to Congress and the Department of Justice.
Last year, the office issued 2,200 reports and made 8,800 recommendations.
At the end of an audit or investigation the office issues a report with it’s findings. It will also include a recommendation on how to remedy whatever problem has happened. For every $1 spent in the IG office $17 of potential savings are found. It’s just potential savings because they have no power to compel an agency to enforce the recommendations. It is left to the department head or Congress to take action on any report issued.
There has been a 40% increase in investigations since the Trump administration took office.
This isn’t a surprise I guess since the EPA director alone has 12 open investigations into his conduct and spending. Some cabinet members have already been let go due to extravagant spending exposed by the IG.
The IG Office is the mechanism that would ‘drain the swamp.’
Many vacancies remain within the office yet the investigations have gone up! IG’s get nominated by a president and have to go through a Senate confirmation process. They have no term requirements are limits. They serve at the pleasure of the president. So, in theory, if you were a person that wanted to ‘drain the swamp,’ your first priority would be to get these positions filled.
The Office of Inspectors General usually is a really under the radar office. It’s making news lately because of the accusations of the FBI’s mishandling of the Clinton investigation, EPA directors misconduct and the firing of Andrew McCabe. Congressional Republicans have also called for an IG investigation into the Mueller investigation as well. The revelations of the text messages between the FBI agents working on the Mueller probe were revealed through and IG investigation as well. So, be watching for the bombshell release this afternoon! Both sides will devour it I’m sure.