POGO has been pretty disappointed with a number of President Obama's appointments. However, yesterday we got some good news. The person tapped to chair the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board set up to oversee the massive stimulus spending spree is Earl Devaney, the Department of Interior's Inspector General. The "Big Guy," as he is known around IG circles, is no typical Washington insider. He still maintains POGO's favorite emotion--outrage--when there is misconduct in the handling of federal funds. From his work investigating the impact of sleazy lobbyist Jack Abramoff's corrupting influence of senior officials at DOI (he testified before House Resources Committee that it was the "most egregious example I've seen" of official misconduct), to his more recent uncovering of misconduct at the Minerals Management Service (how many IG reports actually have a subsection entitled "Drugs and Sex"?) Devaney has proven he isn't afraid of taking on uncomfortable cases and seeing them through. When DOJ declined to prosecute two Interior officials involved in self-dealing and violating conflict of interest rules, he made it quite clear this was unacceptable. We suspect Devaney's hand is behind the announcement that one of the first steps taken by incoming Interior Secretary Salazar is to review that decision.
We remain furious that the stimulus law does not protect federal whistleblowers who will be the first eyes and ears to detect waste, fraud, and abuse. However, we are at least glad to know a serious watchdog (but don't call him that--he hates animal analogies) is on the job.
-- Danielle Brian
UPDATE: Gregg Carlstrom over at the Federal Times also notes that Interior will announce its own "stimulus czar" this week.