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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Permanent IG's Necessary to Protect Taxpayer Dollars

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today urged President Barack Obama to fill six vacancies for permanent Inspectors General at key federal agencies to improve government oversight and accountability that could result in the savings of billions in taxpayer dollars. According to a 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office, Inspectors General identified $43.3 billion in potential savings to the government during FY2009.

Presently there are 32 Inspectors General who require a presidential appointment, however six core agencies have not had a permanent Inspector General charged with oversight for a significant duration. The Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Interior, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and the Agency for International Development have been operating without a permanent Inspector General, creating an unstable oversight environment where it can be difficult to instate a long-term accountability strategy to ultimately protects taxpayer dollars to the tune of billions.

"As you know, IGs provide critical oversight that is a benefit to your Administration, to Congress and to the agencies themselves," Shaheen wrote in a letter issued Tuesday to the President. "A permanent IG brings the expertise and qualifications necessary to ensure objective audits, investigations and independent oversight over our federal agencies."

"Recognizing that there can be many legitimate reasons for delays in IG appointments, these key agencies have operated without permanent leadership for far too long. I am very concerned that the lack of stable leadership could be negatively impacting the ability of each IG office to provide effective oversight at these six agencies," Shaheen added.

"By appointing qualified, strongly independent and permanent IGs, you are taking the necessary steps to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the federal government."

Today's letter is part of an ongoing effort by Shaheen to ensure greater accountability of taxpayer dollars in government spending. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen has successfully fought for increased oversight in Afghanistan reconstruction spending and introduced legislation requiring federal agencies with construction contracts in Afghanistan to publicly justify their actions when ignoring recommendations from Inspectors General. The United States Air Force is currently seeking reimbursement of $4.3 million in taxpayer dollars spent on poor contactor work in Afghanistan thanks to the findings of an internal investigation Shaheen requested.

The full text of the letter is below:

February 5, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

11600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I write today to call your attention to the ongoing vacancies at the Offices of the Inspectors General in six key federal agencies and urge you to move with purpose to nominate qualified, permanent Inspectors General at each.

As you know, IGs provide critical oversight that is a benefit to your Administration, to Congress and to the agencies themselves. According to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), for instance, Inspectors General identified $43.3 billion in potential savings to the government during FY2009.

There are 32 IGs that currently require a presidential appointment. Six of these have remained without a permanent IG for an extended period of time. These are the Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Interior, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and the Agency for International Development. Shockingly, the Department of State has operated without a permanent IG for over 1,800 days, while the Department of Defense, with a budget of $645.7 billion in FY2012, has been without a permanent IG for over 400 days. Recognizing that there can be many legitimate reasons for delays in IG appointments, these key agencies have operated without permanent leadership for far too long. I am very concerned that the lack of stable leadership could be negatively impacting the ability of each IG office to provide effective oversight at these six agencies.

A permanent IG brings the expertise and qualifications necessary to ensure objective audits, investigations and independent oversight over our federal agencies. Unlike an acting IG, a permanent IG is thoroughly vetted by the Administration and by the Senate through the confirmation process. In addition, a permanent IG has time to put in place a long-term strategy for the IG office, to set goals and to ensure those goals are met. An acting IG serves in a temporary capacity and is therefore less likely to implement a strategic vision or move forward with more effective oversight measures.

During your January 27 interview for 60 Minutes on CBS News, you spoke to the role of the President and of political leaders, saying that "government is a process of constant improvement… and so part of what you're trying to do is to constantly improve systems and accountability and transparency to minimize those mistakes and ensure success." By appointing qualified, strongly independent and permanent IGs, you are taking the necessary steps to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the federal government. I hope you will move quickly to fill these positions and I look forward to closely considering each nomination in the U.S. Senate through the confirmation process.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator


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