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Nov 03, 2010

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Hubert Sparks

A few comments on recent POGO news.

IG actions seem to be one step forward and one step backward. Stae IG folloed up on POGO Afghanistan security guard issue and issues report OVER a year later. Interior IG identifies ethics problem but lack of follow-up or disclosure of agency non-action requires POGO follow-up on problem. Interior IG given another shot and hopefully will do better.

Investigation report releases have always been a problem and another area where Congress has not challenged IGs.

Unless SEC IG is under different legislative provisions my understanding ( and prior practice ) is that OIGs have independent authority to release their reports. A possibly related problem is that some former ECIE IGs ( smaller IGs ) never fully implemented their IG authorities and allowed, and may still allow, agnecy heads to dictate many practices including personnel, travel, training and operstional decisions.

The item on a lack of stimulus related com[plaints exacerbates continued OIG lack of reports dealing with actual testing of over $600 billion in spending to date, both of which scenarios encourage OMB to state the rate of improper spending is low despite the absence of testing evidence.

No surprise that getting information from OIGs is difficult. I recently asked for a summary broken out by OIGs to support the OIG claims at their recent awards ceremony of $8 biilion in recoveries and $44 billion in POTENTIAL savaings during the 2009 fiscal year since OIG semi-annuial and annual reports did not support this information. Naturally no response to this simple request yet received.

instigator

As I mentioned to you before, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires such IG reports. I was contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services IG who claimed that their office had received no complaints. Comparing their statistics with the identical statistics reported by the Department of Agriculture IG, who incidently also stated in her first 2010 semi-annual report that she didn't have the time to protect whistleblowers, it appears what I actually received a summary of all IGs reports and they are claiming that in the past two years not one whistleblower has asked them for protection. They report there was only person who got the department and was referred to another. That's it for the first twenty months of ARRA (up to August 31st, 2010. So if someone has recently filed with an IG in the last few weeks then that person is probably the first and we are about to see how IGs handle their first ARRA case.

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