tv Role of Inspectors General Effectiveness CSPAN June 15, 2018 6:56pm-8:01pm EDT
the law's role nick over native american land and sunday at 4:00 p.m. on real mercer the 1944 film the memphis belle, story of a flying fortress which documents one of the first b-17 bombers to complete 25 missions in europe without being shot down. watch the c-span networks, this weekend. >> now a conversation on the effectiveness of inspectors general. this is part of a for you. held to mark the 40th 40th anniversary of the inspectors general act. it's host evidence by wayne state law school's levin center which is leads by former michigan democratic senator carl leverin. levin. >> owe hello. as we reconvene, you have
already heard a partial introduction of our next moderator. but i'd like to augment that a little bit. our moderator for the second panel this morning is peg gustafson, spin county -- inspector general for the department of commerce. sworn in january of last year, friar her current -- prior the her currents position she served for eight years as the ig orr thing small business administration and flight served as general counsel no senator claire mccaskill. where she advises the senator on governments oversight issues and helped write two bills that have significantly strengthened the federal offices of inspector general. the inspector general reform act of 2008 which you have heard about, and the legislation that strengthened the office of the -- the special inspect you're general for the troubled asset relief program. thank you for being with us today. and i will leave it to our
moderator to introduce the panel. >> so my goal for this panel is we religion answer and solve all the questions and problemses that just came up in the last panel. i have never told a bigger fly my life. that's probably not going to happen but i do want to take just a couple of minutes to give my perspective and then liked introduce our panelists and i'm hope. we can have a robust discussion about the issues we have talked about as far as inspectors general and their role with congressional oversight and maybe some things that can be done bet are or should -- better or coolings that inspectors general could find helpful to have that might increase our effectiveness and impact. just very briefly i want to thank the levin center for asking me to do this i. was excited to see senator levin,
who i promise you doesn't remember me, which is fine, but i did dish was on the hill for two years, when i was there i was not a committee staffer, i was a personal staffer, which means i was a peon, i was old but i was peon, but my boss became -- was on homeland security dom agars and got her dream assignment the subcommittee on investigations, a member of that subcommittee and i was lucky enough sin she decide to not have committee staff i was he starer for the issues and in the short amount of time that i was on the hill, i got some incredible experience in what it means to work in a robust, oversight environment that congress is certainly capable of and often exercises, just thinking about it, we had a series of hearings on credit card companies and some of the
abuses that credit card companies inflict upon their consumers. which resulted in legislation that actually causes you when you get your credit card bill you see information to help you figure out when your bill is do, however it would cast's cost to pay -- if you pay my midge amount you about be paying you're dead in the ground give you pay this much money can pay it off in three years. that legislation was a direct result of hearing being held by the permanent subcommittee investigation. also a series of hearings on medicare providers and how they were often serving up duplicates payment ford the work they were doing. ...
caused congress to create it in the way they did did it beautifully because there is so much independence built into there and yet it is so beneficial to be within the agency, though that comes with its own set of pressures, but to have an ig sitting in the agency exercising independent oversight with a dual reporting requirement to congress, really i think helps us become extremely important parts of the government and provide a really valuable service to the tax payers. so i'm happy that we've been able to strengthen that in the acts of 08 and in the empowerment act of last year and again i'm looking forward to maybe talking about things that the panel think may also be useful to help us perform our jobs even better. the other thing i wanted to mention just as an ig from my perspective that i personally find somewhat frustrating is first off, most people don't know what an ig is. most people that you would, you know, if you were to stop 10 people on the national mall, nine of them for certain would
never have heard of what an inspector general is. and the other one might remember, you know, the guy in the bathtub in vegas with the champagne or maybe something -- because that one resonates still years later. or of course some of the current stuff that you read in the post as far as investigations being done by the ig. that's incredibly important work. but as senator levin also mentioned, in his remarks, that's just a part of what the inspectors general do. those investigations are important. they really help the taxpayer feel i think -- have a little faith in the government because when misconduct is discovered and when it's reported, you know, i think the taxpayers feel a little bit better about hopefully we have the right people in place, but they get all the attention. the guy in the bathtub, when i was going through confirmation for commerce, most of the questions that i got were about the political appointee who spent $50,000 renovating his office. that's egregious and it was
important work that the commerce ig had done and it was a very good report, but we also oversee, you know, the multibillion dollars satellite program that noaa has and this little thing called the census. those things are important too. i will tell you that sometimes it is frustrating as an inspector general and i promise you it's extremely frustrating for the auditors and evaluators who do that work that that work doesn't get as much attention from the stake holders. senator levin mentioned the 88 billion dollars in savings that came from igs for the last five years. it's really important work and i think sometimes it is really overshadowed by some of the other stuff. i would be curious to hear from our panelists what, if anything, we think can be done to kind of change the paradigm on that a little bit and make ourself more noticed. and again, to echo something that michael horowitz said which is absolutely right --
[inaudible] -- then the agency won't pay near as much attention to that work as well because they have limited resources. they have a lot of things they are supposed to be doing, and they care a little bit more deeply about your audit recommendations if congress is at their -- if congress is breathing over their necks saying what are you doing about that or if outside stake holders are keeping track and saying what are you doing about that. it is simply kind of human nature. and i think just -- it makes perfect sense but i think it is an important thing and i would wonder if our panelists think that ig's are doing -- if there's anything else especially the inspector general could be doing to kind of further highlight that work. with the caveat that there are 73 of us, that's the other thing i wanted to kind of throw out there. that always becomes a complicating factor when you try to talk about what can ig's be doing or what they should be doing, some offices of inspector general are incredibly large.
you saw the -- i think they said over 14,000 employees. some of them are large. some of them are one person or two people or under 10 people or such. so there is definitely not a one size fits all solution to any of these questions. there are definitely a lot of different pressures that come as a result of what agency you are overseeing, what size you are, and things like that. so it's a tough issue to tackle. so again, we're not going to solve it. but it would be worth -- but i appreciate the fact that we are discussing it. i very much appreciate the levin center for having this. introducing our panel, the interesting thing about this panel to me is all of us, myself included, are either former or current employees of the legislative branch, which is not unusual from the other panel i think was almost that way as well. but these three panelists represent some of the outside stake holders that also play a
crucial role in coordinating with igs, in highlighting the work of igs, in doing similar oversight that inspectors general do. so i will be curious to hear not only maybe from your perspective or when you were on the hill insights they may have gleaned or insights they be gleaning from their current jobs. i will introduce everybody just quickly. briefly we will have a couple minutes of talk from each panelist and then again i'm looking forward to having a lot of questions. first panelist serves as a senior counselor to the bipartisan policy center. dan has before leaving government had a large -- a long distinguished career in government. first off working on the hill for several years and then moving in 2001 to be a deputy director at opm which at the office of personnel management in the federal government. in 2006 he was named by president bush to lead the newly
formed postal regulatory commission which has its own ig. i know that one is an example of a small ig. and from 2011 to 2017, led the national academy of public administration which is a congressional chartered think tank which i'm sure does good work no matter what some people may think of think tanks. again currently works at the bipartisan policy center. next to dan, barry davis the director of financial management and insurance at gao, which is the oversight entity that's actually located within the legislative branch. she has served as the vice president for standards and guidance at the institute of internal auditors and previously worked for the city of orlando. she began her career in public accounting for private industry, but her current responsibilities include audits related to improper payments, grants management, agencies internal controls and federal ig issues.
one of the things i have noticed in the last few years congress likes to tell igs what to do. they love to gao what to do because gao works for them but there are some reviews of the ig community in those bills that have been undertaken. i know she has had some responsibility for those recent products. and then our final panelist is peter tyler who is a senior policy analyst at project and government oversight. he worked prior to that at hhs, congressional affairs and advocacy which has been about an 100 hour a week job because hhs is so immense. before that had two decades of congressional experience including a senior professional staffer on senate homeland security and government affairs. where i first got to know peter, he was a very strong proponent of getting igs the tools that they need -- still is, and i
know we worked very closely together when we were doing some improper payments legislation that obviously includes some role on the igs. it was something that was very important to senator and remains important to the senator. i'm happy to see peter today. with that i will turn it over first to mr. blair, dan blair, thank you. >> good morning, everyone. >> good morning. >> thank you for that kind introduction. before i begin, i just want to make some special acknowledgments here today. this is a real honor and privilege to come here today. thank you, senator levin for your kind invitation. i had the privilege to work with you and your staff, and i was senior staffer on the what was then the governmental affairs committee. i'm glad to be able to reconnect with you today. in doing so, i want to
acknowledge linda at the back of the room. linda, thank you very much. linda was a guest of bpc at one of our sessions, and i greatly appreciated it. also want to acknowledge elise. elise, it is great to reconnect with you as well. i also want to acknowledge in the audience today beverly. beverly is one of my colleagues at bpc. and has been interruptal in -- and has instrumental in helping us put together this report. i appreciate your efforts. i'm talking about this report because bpc will be issuing its own report on congressional oversight on july 9th. this is a culmination of almost a year's worth of effort at the center in looking at congressional oversight. oversight in general and the role of the igs. in doing so, i think we came up with some interesting observations which i'm not going to go into today because i don't want to spill that we will be
issuing in a short three weeks' span. i want to give an overview about what put it together, who we talked to and our process. when we came together to do this report, we assembled a high level task force of nine members. and we were very fortunate in bringing together some really good talent of folks who span the spectrum of government. we brought together former secretary of agriculture and member of congress from kansas, dan glickman, secretary glickman has a long history at bpc, but also has had tremendous experience in the federal government both from the legislative and the executive perspective. and we're going to be covering some of those in the report. but it's interesting, he came into office at the department of agriculture following an ig report that led to the downfall of his predecessor. he had some interesting views and about the role of igs and
how agency heads should interact. another former member of commerce and former secretary of the army, john mccue -- former member of congress and former secretary of the army, john mccue. i worked for secretary mccue on the house oversight subcommittee on the postal service. john brought to this panel a real interesting perspective not only as the secretary of the army, which is a huge department, larger than a lot of cabinet agencies, but also his role in congress, and one of the key things that he did while he was on the house oversight committee was he put together legislation establishing an independent office of inspector general for the postal service. up until 1997, it was part of -- chief postal inspector. he saw it as an inherent conflict of interest and he worked to achieve the enactment of legislation establishing that office. also brought together three igs, former igs, dave williams who
had been the postal ig, but dave was also the ig at five different agencies. he was at treasury. he was the ig for the irs, tax ig for -- the ig for -- i forgot the acronym. i knew it so well. he was at the ig at the irs. we had jim hughes who had been the ig at social security and also we had a predecessor, general ari fields who had been the special ig for the afghan recovery effort. then we brought in folks who had executive branch experience but also kind of had that back ground with congress as well. we had the deputy director for management at the office of management and budget in the clinton administration. omb has a critical role with the igs.
they co chair the council of igs for integrity and efficiency. they have a close relationship across government with multiple igs because what the igs find often times congress will find of interest and it affects management, which is the m in omb. we had robert shay. robert is a long time colleague of mine from the house and the senate, but robert also worked at omb during the bush years, and ended up being the chief of staff for omb director. robert has tremendous experience in the government management area. he also sat on a commission that recently made recommendations on evidence-based policy making for the federal government. this is critical because we will talk a little bit in our report about the involving role of igs and where igs fit into this evidence agenda. and this evidence agenda is interesting because it is an attempt to infuse dana analytics
and -- data analytics and quote unquote evidence into whether federal programs and policies are actually working and what role do igs play, more importantly what they need to do to play an effective role in the future. we also had denise wilson. denise was a former colleague of mine as well. she worked on the house oversight committee for henry waxman. and congressman cummings. and she later worked as a special assistant to president obama doing legislative affairs. and we had betty lou taylor. she brought a wealth of experience from not the authorizing side, but from the appropriators side. betty lou was the long time clerk on the senate labor hhs committee. and she came -- she worked for about 20 years. and prior to that she was a clerk on the house labor hhs committee.
so she brought a different perspective than what authorizers necessarily bring. she brought the idea of what the power of the purse can do. and in our report, we talk a little bit about that. we have a case study that we highlight in the report to show you, you know, where the appropriators and authorizers can actually join together and affect change. our report centers on kind of two dimensions. one, we make recommendations to the president. a classic one is there are -- i think peter you know this because you have that website, 12 vacancies or 11 vacancies? >> [inaudible]. >> these are critical vacancies in the federal government and there doesn't seem to be -- there needs to be more pressure made to fill these critical vacancies. we make recommendations to agency heads regarding their relationships with igs. we make recommendations to the igs themselves. we also make recommendations to
the council of igs on integrity and efficiency. we had the chair of that this morning, michael horowitz. michael was gracious enough to help kick off our task force meetings back in october. and then we also make recommendations to congress. at our task force meetings, we've held six of them, and we've heard from a wide variety of folks in the community. we heard from dustin brown who was at that time the acting deputy director for management. now we have margaret wicker which is confirmed and in place. it is interesting to see the role that omb plays. we also had a plan of presidential appointtants and confirmed igs. we had glenn fine now acting at the department of defense but also been at the department of justice in the clinton and bush years. we had dan levinson from hhs and steve lennock from state. we heard from academics such as don kettle and kathy newcomer.
and we heard from senate and house staffers as well. so we also heard from a panel of dfe, ig and then from peter, linda, and brought in charlie clark of government executive. we have a wide variety of people we have heard from, recommendations to the igs, and we also have different subject matters involving congress and the ig, independence, evolution of the ig and growing ig capacity. our report will come out july 9. you are invited to attend or listen in. if you have any questions, you can get my e-mail. i'm glad to be here, answer your questions and be part of the levin center's efforts to enhance this community. thank you very much for your invitation. i look forward to your questions. [applause]
>> now we're going to hear from mary davis. the relationship of gao and inspector general is so important because we cover exact same ground. they have the same oversight responsibility that we do with the tiny little difference that they are actually inside the legislative branch working for congress. so i will be curious to hear your insights and any thoughts you might have in improving the igs. thank you. >> thank you, peg, a special thanks to the levin center especially to linda and then of course to senator levin. we want to thank you for giving gao the opportunity to participate in this symposium today. it is our privilege. thank you all. i'm going to share with you some slides. i thought it might be good to share visually with you some of the points that i wanted to make today. i want to give a special thanks to one of my colleagues here in
the audience today for helping me developing this presentation. i think the first and most important is to establish the fact that igs do a tremendous job. they have a lot of responsibility and their independence is also very important. i have a slide that talks about some of the legislation that took place, multiple pieces of legislation over the years. of course the landmark legislation occurred back in 78 as everyone knows. another important piece of legislation was the ig reform act of 2008, which actually gave -- put -- established a requirement for igs to submit their budgets in a separate line item when they submitted their budgets for the president's consideration. i think that was very important and the ig's oversight is very important as well. i want to share more information about ig's oversight. is there oversight of the ig community? yes, of course there is. igs are required to have peer reviews every three years.
a requirement of the yellow book. if they conduct audits or follow government auditing standards, the reform act also established, you know, the council of inspectors general on integrity and efficiency, one important piece here of that legislation was that there was an item to address allegations of wrongdoing through the establishment of an integrity committee, so that if individuals had concerns about ig's or their staff that they could get an independent review of those assertions or allegations. there is also oversight on the part of gao, as to the ig community, but before i actually address that, i wanted to talk about what i think is even more important, and that is the ig coordination with gao. we work together hand in hand. the ig act requires ig's to give particular consideration to
gao's work and activities, that there isn't any duplication or overlap. likewise, gao has established protocols, policies in place so that before we go out and conduct any audit, we determine whether the ig for that particular agency has done any work or is planning to do any work, and we work very collaboratively with the ig's to ensure there is not overlap. the ig's have developed a strong partnership with gao and a couple of examples i want to share here are the work that we do on the consolidated financial statement audit. most ig's have a responsibility for the financial audits of their agencies, and at the end of the year, we take all that information at gao and we consolidate it for our annual audit of the consolidated financial statements. so we again have very strong and good substantial policies in place to work with the ig's, and we depend very heavily upon them in helping us to produce our end
product. likewise, the gao works very collaboratively with the igs relative to improper payment issues and in particular the igs have responsibility to look at the compliance of their respective agencies regarding improper payments and we have on an annual basis now produced a report that summarizes, assimilates the information that the various igs have conducted, the work that they have conducted of their respective agencies, and so we have reported on that information. so again, another example of collaboration between gao and the igs. now, as i mentioned, there is oversight of the igs on the part of gao at some points in time. congress may ask us to go in and do a review of a particular ig office. if we do that, we will of course follow their instructions, but generally if there are no specific details on how to conduct the audit, we will look at the ig resources, their
accomplishments, their monetary savings and also the extent of their oversight coverage. you know, are they doing a good job covering their respective agency programs and operations? likewise, we look at the quality of the ig's work. the secondary -- the second area i wanted to address, talking a little bit different direction here, the ig oversight of small agencies. i think this is a very important thing for all of us in the accountability community to consider because small agencies often times have small ig shops, if they have them. and we have done a number of audits and have done work in this area and made some suggestions to actually congress about looking at alternatives for oversight of these small agencies. there are few examples i'm sharing here of the situations where a larger federal entity ig will take responsibility for oversight of a smaller agency.
so the first example is the department of state. ig has oversight for the broadcasting board of governors, the agency for international develop. ig has oversight for four smaller agencies including the millennium challenge corporation and then the department of transportation ig has responsibility for oversight of the national transportation safety board. we have also done work, and this is an excerpt from an actual report that we did, that shows congress and the public that there are alternatives to this oversight of small agencies. the first one on this list here was the one i just shared with you about consolidation or consideration and consolidation with an oig of a larger department, the other has to do with perhaps sharing responsibilities, regional ig office could share responsibilities between the different regional entities, and then the third example here is
dividing oig oversight responsibilities. maybe giving some to one ig office, larger ig office or some to another larger ig office. this comes directly from one of our reports. it is listed here on the screen, if you have any interest in looking into further details on this information. and this is the third and final area that i wanted to talk about. we recently in march of this year actually produced a report. we were required under the 2016 ig empowerment act to actually go in and look at prolonged vacancies in ig offices, and as you can see from this chart, we looked at both the presidentially appointed and senate confirmed offices as well as the designated federal entity offices. there are 32 in each category, if you add up the numbers, there are 32 offices in each of those two categories. as you can see, i'm looking at these charts. the offices had a larger number of vacancies over a ten-year
period. we're looking at ten years, had a larger number of ig vacancies that lasted over three years. in fact, there were 11 ig vacancies cumulatively that lasted over three years. in contrast for the dfe offices there was only one that lasted over three years. this is an expansive explanation of the point about the 11 pas ig vacancies as you can see the department of state was at the beginning of the list. that vacancy lasted almost six years cumulatively lasted almost six years. there were several as you can see where there were multiple vacancies within those offices, and i do want to point out that of these 11, there are three of the 11 that are currently still vacant. most importantly, the department of defense, i point that out because as you can see from this chart, it also has an extended period of vacancy, the department of defense is well over four years cumulative
vacancy during the ten-year period. now, i want to talk vacancies. please be assured that there are acting igs in those positions, but they are not filled permanently. we also as part of this review did a survey of igs who had served in acting positions and also their offices, personnel who actually worked under an ig that was in a temporary position. and we had some -- we had three main areas of focus. we wanted to look at whether or not the igs that were acting igs had the ability to plan and conduct their work, to interact with agency management and then also to manage their office and their personnel. so i'm going to share very briefly with you some of the results. for the first category the effect on the oig's ability to plan and conduct work, generally acting igs and their employees, their oig employees did not
think there was a significant impact on the oig's ability to plan and conduct work. as you can see in the first bullet, eight of the nine acting ogs had this opinion. regarding the oig employees depending on which question, because there were different questions that we asked, but between 49 and 69 percent believe that having an acting ig had no impact on these areas. there were some, you know, exceptions and particular questions that were asked, for example, there's a negative impact on timely completion of audit reports and some other aspects of ig activities as well. the secondary -- the second area is the effect -- similar to the first area, most individuals responded to the survey did not think there was a significant impact on the ig's ability to conduct their work. this was the response of the acting igs but also the oig employees. 63% believe that having acting ig had no impact.
however, it was a smaller majority -- or smaller segment that believed -- 17% believe that there is a negative impact on responsiveness from agency management and the timely access to agency documentation. then the third area has to do with the effect on the oig's ability to manage the oig and its personnel and there was a little bit more movement in the other direction for this particular category that we looked at. in some cases, people felt there was no impact, but in some, felt that there was a negative impact. and there was a little bit of more mixture in this case. both on the parts of the acting igs and the oig employees and their responses. in fact, the oig employees approximately 55% believe there's no impact, but it's very important to note in the last bullet here that 35% believe there is a negative impact on employee morale. and then the last and final
slide i want to share with you has to do with the independence or perception of independence on the part of ig whose are serving in an acting position -- igs who are serving in an acting position. they did flip the other way when asked whether or not igs were independent in appearance. most of the igs -- permanent igs that we surveyed felt there was an issue in this regard. for the acting igs, again, they felt there was no threats to their independence as acting igs, but there might be an appearance problem if an acting ig for example is lobbying for a particular job. kind of similar responses in the oig employees, 52% believe an acting ig is not less independent, but again, you know, a number of them -- people who responded in the employee community felt that there could be a concern about the independence from a perspective standpoint, that individuals might be perceived in an acting
position as not being quite as independent. so that's essentially the summary. i appreciate your attention. thank you. [applause] >> i realize we're already going over time and that's totally the first panel's fault. i would like to put that on record. [laughter] >> so before i ask peter to come up and give his comments. i wanted to give peter all the props in the world about all the work he has done. to be clear, i want to give props to project on government oversight because it is a tremendous example of a nongovernmental entity that performs very robust oversight on their own. that was one of the first meetings when i came to d.c., danielle bryan does a fantastic job there. they are the organization famous for the hammers at dod. i can't remember how much they cost, they did the work that talks about the hammers that dod was buying. that was the work of pogo.
example of a nongovernmental organization that can affect change that does oversight as well but a strong proponent of ig, worked closely with them on the ig reform act of 08. i'm thrilled to have peter talk about his work and pogo's work. [applause] >> thank you, peg. thank you to the levin center for hosting this event on a very important topic. also would like to join my colleagues in showing appreciation to senator levin. he may not remember me because i was a staffer on the committee working for senator tom carper, chairman and ranking member at various times. he won't remember me i was because one of the staffers sitting at a bench behind him the whole time. he may not have seen me. a lot of people were respected the fact that people were sitting in front of him, the witnesses at a hearing he would push very hard and at times with very great effect, it was always a pleasure to see you at your job. now to be in front of you at this time.
i'm going to echo a lot of what was said in the earlier panel by earlier speakers in this panel which is the importance of the inspectors general in their oversight duties. no surprise project on government oversight considers government oversight a very important function. the igs are a critical institution. over the past 40 years since the ig act, that importance continues, if not grown. and there's plenty of issues to point to, whether presidential issues or relatively small accounting issues, all which are very important. pogo is a reader of the ig reports and across the federal government. when i was on the hill, the inspectors general, go to entities for credible information. whether we want to know about an issue, read that report, see what it means for certain programs or for actually delving into an issue, talking to the igs, getting the briefings and inviting them to hearings.
on more than one occasion i had the opportunity of taking inspector general recommendations, translating them into legislation, and through a very long process actually seeing them become law. and that's because of the strong work of the ig. many ways congress is a conduit of that. it takes a lot work but it happens. the igs continue to be important. noting the 40th anniversary, pogo decided to take on an initiative which will sound familiar from what dan just mentioned. we have an initiative to look at potential changes to the inspector general's act and other ways of improving the procedures, policies requirements, tools and abilities of the igs to be even more effective in the future. some of these are big. some are small. where we got these ideas is not a secret. it's being from a lot of experts who know these issues, igs themselves, people who have been working with the igs for a long time. but a lot of it came from the best practices of inspector general. one of the things you hear in
the ig world is if you have seen one inspector general office, you have seen one inspector general office. they all tend to do things a little bit differently. some do things very well in one aspect, others not so well and so on. and so we can see those best practices and say, you know, this ig is doing this very very well. these others probably could emulate that. there's reasons for this. some of them make sense. smaller igs may have more challenges for example than larger igs. some are just the way things are. there are a lot of ideas out there. i'm going to differ dan blair by actually giving a couple recommendations, consider it a movie trailer. by the way, as you point out, we are in touch with each other. we are swapping notes. it's been invaluable to talk with dan blair and other folks on his investigation. here's a couple of thoughts. and also i should point out that the ig community itself is making great strides. ig doj ig today talked about
oversight.gov which is a great step forward in finding a place to consolidate all the ig reports in one place, one stop shopping. we use it a lot. and it sounds like well, what's the big deal? i could go to the department of commerce ig and get the reports. when you need to find all 73 reports on something arcane like fisa or some other issue, that's when oversight.gov is valuable. they are all right there with the push of a button and one can make a federal government examination. there are some other things we haven't seen happen yet. one of the big issues is focusing on the big issues. pogo would not be one to say that maul -- to say that small issues are not important. however we do see the inspectors general so involved the trees that they don't see the forest. there are issues which traditionally the inspectors general simply don't focus enough attention on. there's exceptions to this. but these are issues of health
and safety, civil rights, crimes, ethics, if the ig is only focusing on the small things, they are not for the big issues, are ethics violations happening? what about the issues of sexual harassment? things which need more attention in our government. there's a specific recommendation that we will be making which is to update how the semiannual requirements are written in law. this is a recommendation to congress. if you have not read the ig act or read the four pages of semiannual requirements, you will find 22 reporting requirements of the igs on a semiannual basis. now, some of these have just become archaic in that we no longer need to see summaries of every major report or every report which typically happens. they are on-line. they are required by law to be on-line. but it is more than that.
primarily these provisions need to be removed not just because they exist elsewhere or the information but also they incentivize the wrong type of work with the ig offices. many of the identified requirements don't provide important information into what challenges those at the given agency face in the big picture in fulfilling the agency's mission. additionally, they can be found very very quickly. one need not say how many reports have been written this past six months. on their website, you can count them. it is that simple. the whole point is to move away from that and incentivize the big picture work. don't forget the important details but emphasize that's the communication that congress really needs. there are other examples as well. for example, i'm looking at my notes now because we have lots.
i apologize. the issue of vacancies, and this was brought up before. this is something which pogo tracks. the answer, dan, was 14 igs are now unfilled at this time. and we do track that. the question is, when will they be filled? we do know that they are unfilled. we don't know is when they are going to be filled. there's a couple of steps we would like to see probably through a change by congress in the federal vacancies reform act, which is the law that says what is the process for ensuring that vacancies are filled? for example, currently, it is notified by the administration that there is a vacancy. what is not notified is when will the vacancy be filled? administration, what is your plan? why hasn't it been filled? that would be useful accountability step. but there's an other which we're exploring, and we'll talk about now, which is could someone else make the ig nomination in a temporary basis? there is an interesting precedent whereby for u.s.
attorneys, which are vacant, currently the judicial branch takes care of that. they could do a temporary nomination and fill that position temporarily. is that something which the ig community could also see happen with the role of say a committee jurisdiction. why is it important for igs? unlike a lot of agency heads, there is a disincentive at least theoretically for administration not appointing an ig as many people pointed out, igs can be troublesome. and it may not be seen as the best interest of the administration to move quite as quickly. so here's a way perhaps looking at different process for filling those vacancies. those were two. that's our movie trailer version of it. more to come out. looks like we're on the same path as far as timing for these recommendations. so we look forward to hearing what you have to say about those in a few weeks. i look forward to questions now.
>> i'm keenly aware of how much we have covered in the last two hours, but i do hope -- i have a lot of questions and i could talk about vacancies for about two hours. that's the difficulty when you talk about ig stuff, there's 4,000 things to talk about. but i want to make sure that we open it up and if there are questions from the audience, we get those. if ekd do that. -- if we could do that. >> i'm former ig for the architect of the capitol. one of the questions that i have and really it's for the panel, but maybe for beryl davis directly. have you looked at the situation with the new igs coming in and whether their -- this is a term i heard when i first took office and that is inert employees, as an ig, you want to build the
best team you can, and you're left with very few vacant positions to fill. what happens is the staff members may not be on board with your program. and so i wondered has there been a look at is that slowing down the work of igs, particularly newly appointed igs, who want to plot the direction for the office but are left with people who may not be dedicated to that direction? >> kevin, that's an excellent question. unfortunately gao has not looked at that. i understand the issues and concerns. when we did our review, which resulted in a product that i shared with you on ig vacancies, we did get responses to the
survey questions that were open ended questions. some of the people had different opinions, but we have not specifically done any work about that initial phase when a new ig takes office. it is a very good question and deserves a good response. >> if i can put my personnel hat back on from my days at opm, there are tools available for you. workforce shaping tools that congress granted agencies to have, and to the extent you can use that with the architect in the capital, you would have to work through the capitol officers office within the house. but these are tools that you can use in terms of offering early outs, buyouts and other things in order to move people out of their positions. unfortunately, you know, what is inert to one person is, you know, active resistance or, you know, or institutional knowledge to someone else. but it's -- you know, it's reflective of the fact that it
is, you know, when you come into the federal workplace, employees have protections, and they're there for a reason. and i think that this is an example of leadership skills in order to motivate the new office. >> i will tell you from perspective of somebody who -- i've now been fortunate to have been confirmed as an inspector general in two different offices, it is a very interesting feeling to go in and you are the only political in that office, which makes perfect sense because it is an apolitical office, so you are the only one coming in through a different process. everybody else is a career. but they don't know you. and they don't know what you're about. and there's definitely a sizing up time, for example. and as a pas, for example, there are certain things you can't do for a certain amount of time within the structure, for example, and things like that. though, again, anybody who comes in on day one knowing exactly what they want to do is going
full force i would say is premature because you know very little about that office if you are coming in fresh without being in that office. there's something to be said for that. the bigger issue might be what happens as happens sometimes when there's a vacancy and you are hopeful that that ig is coming and so the acting is holding off on doing certain things. you know, sometimes they will leave positions unfilled, which i appreciate -- i appreciate the thought behind that, let the ig pick their person. you know, there's a position open. this ig could be here any minute. let's wait and let them pick their head of investigation or at least have a role in that. the problem becomes when all of a sudden it is months later, and the ig, the inspector general is still not there. and there's a very normal occurrence. that happens a lot. but the other way would be for that not to happen and then you have an ig that comes in with less flexibility because many decisions have been made that had they waited, perhaps the ig could have a role. but i don't know how you solve that because having been through
the process twice, there are a lot of frustrating things about going through confirmation, even as a lifelong public servant, so i own nothing, you know, i have no business interest at all, but it is still a complicated, invasive long torturous process but the most frustrate thing for you is you have zero control, of how quickly it will go, whether it will happen and things like that. you know, the office is facing the exact same thing. they are sitting there. they are perhaps waiting. they want to have a head in -- i think everybody who is there would like to have a permanent person there. it is a fantastic position but you are the target and gets the arrows and stuff like that, the acting is a career, has a day job, a lot going on already, they don't want to wear those two hats. everybody would love for it to happen quickly. it never does. it very rarely does and there are difficulties that come in for that. i don't have an answer. i would agree with you kevin
that it is a multifacetted problem. any further questions or are we doing okay on time? the one thing that i just wanted to say just very quickly, and i don't know if the panel members have anything that they want to say. i really love doing this because i love telling people what i think. [laughter] >> i'm happy -- i'm a lawyer by training. i'm happy to share my opinion. i was legislation chair for a very long time. and so i've done a lot of these panels, and i love them. and they are always very helpful, but one of the funny things about them is i get to see old friends because it tends to be the same people here. you know what i mean? sometimes i feel like we're always in a little bit of a bubble. that's unfortunate. it is always great to hear from john who i worked very closely with on prior legislation and that's an incredibly important committee for igs and always take an active role. senator grassley is a tremendous friend to igs and keeps igs honest and wants to know how igs
are doing and making sure they are doing their job correctly. and homeland security government affairs is the same thing. the bigger question i think for igs is everybody else. you know, and we have kind of talked about it a little bit. we all have authorizing committees and different varying relationships with those committees. it is important we have the strong relationships with homeland security, government affairs, with judiciary committee, but as inspector general noted, they can only do so much. if we have these pockets of very active igs, i think the key for us and again i don't have an answer because i love these so i can pose questions is how do we get the rest of congress to be actively involved and be highlighting the work of inspectors general a little bit more? and again, as people who work in or formerly worked in the legislative branch, i don't know if you have any thoughts on that. even if it is tips for inspectors general on what we should be doing as a whole.
some of us do it well. some of us have robust congressional affairs staff, two or three people. some have none because again you are very small. with that concept, would you have some guidelines that you think might be helpful? >> one of the things to consider would be regular meetings with our authorizers and appropriators. we heard from some of the appropriato appropriators, they never heard from the igs. and developing that strong relationship. we also heard that some of the committee or some of the hill staff don't even know who to contact, within that office of ig. so posting it on your website as to who the chief point of contact. and i know that in looking at some of these different websites, across government, in the ig -- for the igs, having the same person as the chief point of contact for press, for congressional, for everything else is not helpful because that one person can't handle that. within the office, they need to have delegations of authority as
to who you need to go to within your office or who you need to go to within -- with opm or within the department of interior. so i think those are some helpful things and our report kind of addresses those. those are some of the things we heard from our speakers. >> i want to echo -- i think our report is going to be very similar because we're echoing each other. this is a shared responsibility about how to ensure that igs do the job better but also how igs work with congress. it's the responsibility of the igs themselves, congress needs to update laws and congressional staff, congressional members office and throughout congress need to do a better job, administration has a role. but there are some small things that every ig can do and along with something as simple as i posed this to igs before, do you have a phone number for congressional staff to call? do you have an e-mail address? this is not just a problem for small igs. i used to work for a large ig
which didn't have those things. it is strange; right? and that can be easily fixed. there's also some larger things. it turns out that despite a very strong law called the ig empowerment act, still not all reports are being posted. if a report is deemed classified or this is something that peter's panel talked about, not only do most igs not post them in any form, they don't even announce their existence. so in effect, that agency has censored the ig because that doesn't happen. not all igs, the department of defense ig, shared by gao, which is if the agency says you know, this is classified or sensitive, the ig will at least say a report exists. it is considered sensitive. if you want a copy, call this number. congressional staff can call quickly and get a copy. that seems simple but it is not happening throughout the ig community. again, a great example of best
practice that should be done throughout the ig community. >> i think that's right. congress is a scary place, i think, especially if you have never worked for congress before so i think sometimes that's the thing because again i have been that staffer behind the member where somebody is getting screamed at, you know, so it's scary, so i think sometimes igs don't build those relationships maybe that they should be building for whatever reason, but you know, congress -- they are an important -- if congress is paying attention to igs, our work will get a lot more -- a lot more change will happen as a result of inspectors general work if congress is paying attention. so thank you. i think that we have some closing remarks. >> well, i want to thank -- i'm one of the washington co directors of the levin center. i want to thank our panelist and speakers for participating today in this educational and thoughtful conversation about the role of inspectors general.
and the role they can and should play in congressional oversight. we've showcased the good work that igs do. in terms of the amount of money that they save and the integrity that they bring to government programs. and we've raised a number of issues that igs face, their work -- in their work and for congress. igs have to be willing to be unpopular. as several of us have said, they have to speak truth to power. while that's an overworked phrase, it is a perfect fit when it comes to inspectors general. they have to call the balls and strikes fairly, without bias, without slight of hand. they have to state the facts as they find them, and they have to stand up to criticism which is not easy. congress, the agencies, and the american public rely on the inspectors general to do that.
and igs have to engage with congress. this was the conversation you were just having to let congress know the work that they do and the recommendations that they make. they have to work -- they can't try to avoid congress which some igs might do. they have to work directly and honestly with congress, and equally and probably more importantly, they have to work equally with both sides of the aisle. although it's been 40 years since the ig act became law, the notion of inspector general actually dates back to george washington. when he wanted an inspector general for the army to be sure that the troops and his officers were doing the right thing. that was 1777. and congress took washington's idea to heart and established the first inspector general. so really it's been over 240 years, and i think we can safely say that the idea of inspectors general has stood the test of
time. thank you to the 73 inspectors general who do this challenging and important work day in and day out and thank you to the thousands of dedicated employees who work with them. congress made a very wise move in creating the office, has made some very important improvements over the years, and will hopefully continue to benefit from the good work that they set in motion. thank you again for being here. and enjoy your afternoon. [applause] >> [inaudible]. [applause] >> sunday night, television and
radio host bill press talks about his book "from the left, a life in the cross fire". he's interviewed by syndicated columnist. >> who was one of the most persuasive guests that you can recall? >> john mccain. >> on what subject? >> just about anything. i admire john mccain because he was such a maverick which i liked, you know, sort of consider myself somewhat of a maverick. also brutally honest. he was willing to take on his own party. you know, i wrote a book critical about barack obama called buyer's remorse which i got a lot of flak for from my fellow democrats but i thought there's some things where i believed that obama let the progressive side down. so john mccain felt that his party was not living up to what he believed republican party should be, he was willing to say so. >> watch afterwards sunday night at 9:00 eastern on c-span 2's book tv.
sunday on american artifacts on c-span 3, tour the library of congress exhibit on the centennial of world war i, which showcases american ideas about the war through art work, posters, photographs, films, and documents. >> the idea of contributing the war through labor, the idea of growing your own food so as to conserve larger quantities for the war effort. this is actually by mable wright who is frank lloyd wright's sister, a prominent illustrator, another individual kind of rises to the surface during world war i. you see here also food conservation. this is -- i know we make everything out of corn today, but back then we didn't. so this is kind of new. again, one thing that's worth noting about this too is that in world war ii, we will ration. the government will actually step in and ration food. world war i hoover believed as head of the food administration that if you just encouraged