December 30, 2013

Acting DHS Inspector General Resigns

The Federal Times reports:  Charles Edwards, the embattled acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, has resigned, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Carlton Mann, chief operating officer for the IG’s office, has taken Edwards’ place, the spokesman, Bill Hillburg, said in a phone interview. Hillburg declined comment on the reason for Edwards’ resignation, effective Tuesday, or to say whether he is working elsewhere within the government. But the career federal employee has been under investigation for months by a Senate oversight subcommittee looking into allegations that he changed report findings in response to outside pressure, engaged in nepotism and other issues.

Edwards had been scheduled to testify at a Thursday hearing by the panel, which is part of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. A spokesman for the subcommitee’s chairwoman, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., did not return phone calls, but the hearing has been canceled, according to a notice posted Tuesday afternon on the committee’s website. Last month, both McCaskill and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, called on Edwards to step down. Edwards, who has declined interview requests, said in a statement this summer that he was confident the allegations against him would be found to be “completely without merit.”

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

November 06, 2013

DOD IG Cites Several Instances of Misuse of Position

The Washington Post reports

If you’d like to play golf on government time, Steven Calvery , who runs the Pentagon’s police force, could be the boss for you. Then again, if fetching lunch and coffee for your supervisor every day doesn’t appeal, you may want to work elsewhere.

Calvery, the director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which safeguards the building and 100 other military sites around Washington, has been dinged by the Defense Department inspector general for “misusing” his position and underlings, our colleague Craig Whitlock reports.

In a 40-page report released Monday, the inspector general also said Calvery improperly allowed an unnamed relative to blast away at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency firing range, using a PFPA weapon and ammunition. Tips and advice were provided, gratis, by two PFPA firearms instructors. The relative was applying for a job with another law enforcement agency and apparently needed some practice, the report found.

The inspector general began its misconduct investigation into Calvery after it received a couple of anonymous complaints in March 2011, as well as a letter from an unidentified U.S. senator. The inspector general labored on the inquiry for nearly two years, wrapping things up on Feb. 20, but then kept the findings quiet. On April 2, The Washington Post filed a request for the Calvery investigation under the Freedom of Information Act. Investigators found that Calvery wanted to boost the “esprit de corps” of the 1,300 folks who worked for him.  So in 2009 and 2010, he decreed that anyone who wanted to play in the PFPA’s annual golf tournament would receive four hours’ paid administrative leave.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Issues: Misuse of Position | Permalink

September 19, 2013

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Report on New Media

The DHS Office of Inspector General has published a report titled "New Media for Offices of Inspectors General:  A Discussion of Legal, Privacy and Information Security Issues."  The report specifically addresses ethics concerns with social media use, starting on page 39 of the report.  The complete report may be found here:  Download Final New Media

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

May 03, 2013

Commerce agents plead guilty to fraud against agency

Two former Commerce agents who allegedly accused superiors of wrongdoing pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing false expense claims and clocking hours they didn’t work, according to the Justice Department.

Rachel Ondrik, 35, of Frederick and Kirk Yamatani, 38, of Ashburn, who worked as special agents for the inspector general’s office of the Commerce Department, sought payment for more than $36,000 each in false relocation expenses, according to their plea agreements.

The former agents also committed time and attendance fraud, the Justice Department said. As part of their pleas, Ondrik and Yamatani agreed to probation and $42,000 each in fines and restitution to the government.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Issues: Misuse of Position | Permalink

October 04, 2012

Link to IG report updated: Investigators Question Spending, Gifts at VA Training Conferences in Orlando

The Washington Post reports:  Federal investigators estimated Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs wastefully spent about $762,000 at two employee conferences last year in Orlando, Fla., and that senior leadership failed to provide proper oversight in planning and executing the events.

The inspector general for the VA said 11 of the department’s employees also accepted improper gifts from contractors seeking to do business with the government.

The full IG report may be found here:  

http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-12-02525-291R.pdf

 

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

April 16, 2012

More fall out from GSA conference scandal

Here are some additional articles relaying more information on the GSA conference scandal:

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, News | Permalink

April 03, 2012

GSA Head resigns over excessives conference spending

Multiple news outlets have reported on the resignation of Martha Johnson, her deputy, but not before firing two senior GSA officials over a 2010 GSA Western Regions Conference, held in Los Vegas.  Following an IG investigation, it was found that “many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful, and that in many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.”  To read the GSA IG Report: Download GSA IG Report 2012.

Read more:

Posted by Account Deleted in Fiscal Law, Inspectors General, News | Permalink

March 26, 2012

McCaskill Proposes IG for Senate

The Congressional decision to add several new Inspectors General in recent years shows that Congress has confidence in the Inspector General concept. The newest proposed addition to governent entities with IGs? The Senate.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

March 12, 2012

Praise for Inspectors General

The Project on Government Oversight is an IG booster. A recent article at their website contained links to 10 particularly significant IG investigations, and noted:

[T]he work of federal watchdogs isn’t exactly sexy. I’d wager you could walk from one end of the National Mall to the other and not pass a single person who could identify an Inspector General by name. However, recently, IGs are behind some of the biggest headlines and savings in U.S. government. Ever heard of the numerous scandals involving Solyndra? Bernie Madoff? Hurricane Katrina? Then you’ve probably run across a case that your trusty federal IG helped shed light on.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

March 02, 2012

POGO: Don't Cut Watchdog Budgets

Budget Cutting is in the air, no doubt, but POGO argues that where you cut matters a great deal:

As Congress reviews the Administration’s request, it should keep in mind that OSC—like the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs)—provides a substantial return on taxpayers’ investment :

Four cases alone in just the past few years restored well over $11 million to the government. This amount, while substantial, grossly understates the financial benefit OSC brings to the government.

The real measure of OSC’s financial contribution is prophylactic: By providing a safe channel for whistleblower disclosures, OSC regularly reins in waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, and threats to public health and safety that pose the very real risk of catastrophic harm to the public, and huge remedial and liability costs for the government.

 

Posted by IEC Team Leader in GAO, Inspectors General, OSC, Whistleblowers | Permalink

February 06, 2012

Illustration of Risks For IGs Investigating Senior Officials?

Thanks to the IEC member who altered us to a Bloomberg article on questions about the propriety of some actions by the SEC Inspector General.

To add balance to our coverage, we offer the following comments by an experienced Inspector General lawyer, expressing his own opinion, and not necessarily that of the IEC:

We have not analyzed the article carefully and have no inside knowledge of the allegations. With this understood, we believe this may be the key sentence that puts the allegations in context:

Kotz, who has served as inspector general for four years, has been the subject of complaints by current and former officials who have said some of his probes are overly aggressive and his reports lack evidence of wrongdoing.

IGs who do their job can expect to make enemies. Some of them will be clever and powerful enemies with a proclivity for hitting back, by means fair or unfair.

The attached article from The Journal of Public Integrity by esteemed former Department of Defense Deputy Inspector General Derek Vander Schaff does a good job of describing some of the risks IGs run when they investigate senior agency officials:

Download Vander Schaff Article: Addressing Allegations Against Senior Officials

Edited April 22, 2012 to make attribution more explicit.

 

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

January 29, 2012

Changing of Guard at SEC OIG

Government Executive's story on the departure of SEC OIG David Kotz included some laudatory comments:

His emphasis on the value and inviolability of whistleblowers impressed Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who issued a statement saying, "The agency has a big job and faces ongoing challenges to stay on top of fraud . . . David Kotz produced strong, conclusive reports, even as critics claimed he was too aggressive. An aggressive, independent inspector general is best for the agency in the long run, even if that's uncomfortable for management . . . Go-along-to-get-along just doesn't get the job done. You need someone who tells it like it is."

Kotz also drew praise from Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. "Kotz did what IGs should do: he was very engaged with the Congress and wasn't afraid to point out clearly when his agency wasn't doing its job," she told Government Executive. "He came in at a time when the SEC was in need of a tough critic -- and his investigations had some real impact." She noted that the Justice Department recently announced that it had fined a former SEC enforcement official "who went through the revolving door" to work for indicted financier Allen Stanford after delaying investigation into Stanford's alleged Ponzi scheme, a conflict exposed by Kotz's team.

via www.govexec.com

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

December 09, 2011

Federal Computer Week Story on IGs

A Federal Computer Week story entitled "When IGs Attack, What's an Agency Leader to Do?" suveys some recent disputes been managers of agencies and their inspectors general. The vitriolic reader comments are worth a quick note:

While no large organization is without problems, attacks on IGs may give a misleading impression. The benefits that IGs provide (and they are many) are dispersed. An IG report may identify millions of dollars in savings, but the taxpapers who benefit will rarely associate the benefit with the inspector general. The Congressional committees who benefit by having money freed up for other purposes are in a better position to understand their value, and in my experience, most members of Congress do.

On the other hand, it's common for a hard-hitting audit or investigation to create enemies, enemies who know exactly which IG hurt them, through causing a poor evaluation, a firing, or even leading to criminal prosecution and a prison term in the worst cases.

Bottom Line: Good IGs make enemies, and it's best to keep this in mind when reading through comments made in public forums like the FCW comment feature, especially when the commenters are anonymous.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

December 01, 2011

Govt attorney pleads guilty to conflict of interest

Consumer Products Safety Commission attorney plead guilty to a conflict of interest violation and filing false statements on his "ethics forms."  The charges stem from his claim to have “Insider Knowledge” in advertising his private law practice and his failure to disclose this outside business on his disclsoure reports.  He also represented a private client before the Federal Government.

Read the full DOJ press release, see http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/Public-Affairs/press_releases/press08/GovernmentLawyerGuiltyofConflictofInterestandFilingFalseDisclosureForms.html.

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Conflicts of Interest, Issues: Financial Disclosure, News | Permalink

November 27, 2011

Mortuary Investigation Another Encouraging Sign From Office of Special Counsel

The Office of Special Counsel's report to the Secretary of the Air Force concerning disrespectful treatment of soldier remains at Dover Air Force Base is available. POGO comments:

“The OSC seems to be getting more aggressive and confident in shining a public light on agency failings,” POGO Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach said. “We’ll need more time before we can say whether or not the mortuary case and some other recent actions are isolated examples or a part of a trend, but POGO has definitely seen some things it likes from OSC in recent months.”

For the whistleblowers in the Air Force mortuary case, the OSC provided an important independent review of their claims of retaliation. Unlike most agency Inspector Generals, the Air Force Inspector General  and other military  inspector generals are directly part of the chain of command and thus not independent.

“The Air Force was tasked by the Department of Defense to investigate the allegations, and they spent a great deal of time and a great deal of effort on it,” Ann O’Hanlon, an OSC spokesman  told POGO. “But there were pieces of their investigation—which we made very public—that we didn’t think went far enough. Specifically, the disciplinary actions taken against the three men that were responsible.”

NYT's Elisabeth Bumiller reported on Wednesday that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is considering further actions against the officials.

The three senior officials—one of whom tried to fire two of the whistleblowers after becoming aware of the investigation and another  who  ordered that the mortuary cut a Marine’s arm off with a saw—were not dismissed by the Air Force. In fact, one received only a  letter of reprimand, and the other two were demoted to jobs at Dover outside of the mortuary, according to The New York Times.

The OSC sharply criticized this decision in their report to the Secretary of the Air Force, arguing that “these managers ignored evidence given to them, presented baseless explanations that were ‘simply not credible’ and took affirmative steps to conceal the problem.”

As a result, OSC wrote, “The retention of these individuals sends an inappropriate message to the workforce.”

“I don’t know of any further action [the Air Force] has taken directly since our report came out, but there’s congressional interest now, and we hope that there will be results,” O’Hanlon said.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

October 28, 2011

Article on Relationship Between IG and Ethics Officials

The most recent issue of The Journal of Public Inquiry contains the article Growing Old Together: Inspector General and Ethics Counsel - Changing Environments and Challenges. The authors are Nancy Eyl, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, Maryann Lawrence Grodin, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Inspector General and Alexandra Keith, of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

This excellent article is well worth the time of any ethics official or IG lawyer.

Download 2011 Article_Eyl_Grodin_Keith

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

October 25, 2011

IG Achievements Celebrated

Government watchdogs identified potential savings of $87.2 billion in 2010 in investigations ranging from defective drugs to disaster loan fraud, according to the annual report by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.

via www.iwatchnews.org

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

September 30, 2011

GAO: IGs Have Very High Return on Investment

POGO discusses a new Government Accountability Office report on Inspectors General:

The federal government's 62 Inspectors General (IGs) are putting your tax dollars to good use, returning about $18 for every dollar investment, according to a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

As part of the Dodd-Frank Act--legislation enacted in response to the 2008 financial meltdown--Congress required the GAO to report on the relative independence and efficiency of federal IGs. The result is a report released last week which shows that IGs save taxpayers billions of dollars, and provides hard evidence that the Dodd-Frank Act has increased their independence.

In the 2009 fiscal year, the IGs had an allotted budget of about $2.3 billion, but reported potential savings of about $43.3 billion. The IGs were also responsible for 5,900 actions against criminals, 1,100 civil actions, 4,460 suspensions and debarments and 6,100 indictments as a result of their work, according to the report.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in GAO, Inspectors General | Permalink

September 22, 2011

White House orders agencies to review policies on conferences

The Department of Justice Office of Inspector General just released an audit report which assessed the Department's expenditures related to conferences.  The report reviewed a sampling of conferences held by the Department between October 2007 and September 2009, showing excessive spending on conferences food and beverage items, such as $16 for a muffin. See report: http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/plus/a1143.pdf.  See also the Washington Post article on the same: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-16-muffin-justice-dept-audit-finds-wasteful-and-extravagant-spending/2011/09/20/gIQAXKyhiK_story.html.

In response to the audit report, OMB issued a directive for all agencies to review policies related to conferences, to try to eliminate excessive spending and promote efficiencies in conferences.  See http://www.govexec.com/pdfs/092111ts1.pdf.

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, News | Permalink

Ethics related news

Here are some news item with ethics related topics:

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, News | Permalink

September 19, 2011

SEC IG Criticized

The Washington Post reports on criticism of the SEC Inspector General by a former Chair of the SEC:

Without using his name, Pitt said Inspector General H. David Kotz has taken an “unprincipled approach” in criticizing “hard-working, well-intending” SEC employees.

Pitt’s accusations come as Kotz is preparing to issue a series of reports on sensitive SEC issues. One involves allegations that the SEC’s enforcement division pulled punches in a Wall Street probe. Another involves allegations that the agency glossed over a conflict of interest in its work on compensation for victims of Bernard Madoff’s investment fraud.

Pitt is representing a former SEC official for free in the ongoing Madoff-related probe.

The following comment represents the view of an experienced IG lawyer (not with the SEC). He does not purport to represent the views of the Interagency Ethics Counsel, but proffers the observation for whatever relevance it might have:

We are not aware of all the details of the SEC situation, but this is somewhat reminiscent of warnings from a 1996 article from "The Journal of Public Inquiry." Derek Vander Schaff, a distinguished longtime IG official, noted that when IGs criticize senior officials, they have to be ready for counterattacks, sometimes of a "political" (lowercase "p") nature:

Download IG-Addressing Allegations Against Senior Officials

Edited April 18, 2012 to add attribution.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

July 11, 2011

Leading Precedent on Firing An Inspector General

A belated reference to the January decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concerning the firing of Corporation for National and Community Service IG Walpin is in order, because it provides the best available precedent concering the IG job tenure provisions of the IG Reform Act of 2008.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

July 07, 2011

IG investigation into Defense Education Agency Director

The Inspector General for the Department of Defense substantiated multiple charges against the DoD Education Agency's former Director, including violations of the Joint Ethics Regulation and standards of conduct.  See Federal Times article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20110630/DEPARTMENTS01/106300306/1049/PERSONNEL and IG redacted report at: http://www.dodig.mil/fo/Foia/PDFs/MilesROIforreleaseRedacted.pdf.

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Issues: Misuse of Position, Issues: Travel, News | Permalink

April 02, 2011

Former Amtrak IG Departure Scrutinized

GovExec.com has an update on the controversial departure from federal service of the former Amtrak Inspector General.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

March 08, 2011

Gov Exec Article Examines Role of IGs

Government Executive's March cover story, Into the Limelight, reviews the role of contemporary Inspectors General.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

February 26, 2011

Bills Seek Watchdog for Federal Judges - Washington Wire - WSJ

Bills Seek Watchdog for Federal Judges - Washington Wire - WSJ.

The legislation would establish an inspector general for the judicial branch, with subpoena power to compel testimony from reluctant witnesses. The office would be tasked with investigating judges who run afoul of the law. However, both versions would prohibit this new officer from reviewing or investigating the merits of specific legal decisions, a safeguard to insure the new IG won't undermine an independent judiciary.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

February 22, 2011

Subpoena Power for IGs?

Stephen M. Ryan, head of the Government Strategies Practice Group at McDermott Will & Emery LLP summarizes the arguments against legislation that would give subpoena power to Inspectors General:

Analysis: Beware of expanding the powers of inspectors general--GovExec.com.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

January 28, 2011

DoD OIG draft report on misuse of Govt purchase card at CENTCOM

Tampa Tribune reports: "U.S. Central Command 'wasted funds' by improperly using government purchasing cards to buy coins, cigar storage boxes, televisions and other items, according to a draft report released by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General.  The report chides officials for lax oversight and failing to enforce or follow rules involving about $40,000 in purchases."  See full article at http://www2.tbo.com/content/2011/jan/28/PMENEWSO1-centcom-buys-trouble-with-purchase-cards/

See DoD OIG Draft report: http://www.dodig.mil/Audit/reports/fy11/11-034.pdf

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, News | Permalink

January 23, 2011

Abuse of AMTRAK E-mail Alleged

A Government Executive article notes inquiries by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa into retirement of the former AMTRAK Inspector General into some alleged improprieties.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

January 04, 2011

Legal Relationship Between Ethics Officers and IGs

With the assistance of Nancy Eyl, Sandy Keith and Maryann Grodin are doing research on the legal relationship between ethics officials and Inspectors General, focusing on regulatory or statutory changes over the past 15 years. Nancy asks that anyone with thoughts to contribute on this issue contact her via e-mail.  The address is modified to throw off automated spam scanners:

Nancy --DOT-- Eyl --AT-- dhs --DOT-- gov

A 1996 article by Sandy Keith and Maryann Grodin is a starting point for their research.  Here is a copy of this excellent uncopyrighted article for the convenience of our readers:

Download Legal Eagles - Ethics Article

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

December 29, 2010

Afghan Reconstruction IG Under Fire

Foreign Policy has an article about Congressional dissatisfaction with the controversial Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

December 23, 2010

Govt Printing Office IG audit of GPO Ethics program

The Government Printing Office, Office of Inspector General, completed an audit of GPO's ethics program.  No ethical violations or noncompliance were found but two recommendations were made and will be implemented by GPO's Office of General Counsel to strengthen the program as well as the culture of GPO.  See full report at http://gpo.gov/pdfs/ig/audits/11-01_FinalReportGPOsEthicsProgram.pdf 

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General | Permalink

December 11, 2010

Interior IG Report Cites Irregularities in Shell Bids

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The federal agency that controls oil and natural-gas production on U.S.-owned land "appeared to give preferential treatment" to Royal Dutch Shell PLC when the company pursued drilling leases on public land during 2005 and 2006, the acting inspector general of the Interior Department said in a report Friday.

Investigators said they found no evidence that Shell broke the law, and "no conclusive evidence" that then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton—who accepted a job with Shell several months after leaving her government post—broke federal conflict-of-interest laws. ...

The Interior Department's inspector general's office had referred the matter to the Justice Department, which declined criminal prosecution. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. An Interior Department spokeswoman said the department was reviewing the report. Ms. Norton didn't respond to a request for comment.One Interior ethics official wrote Ms. Norton in an e-mail that "the permanent ban might not apply based on your description of how you were involved in this issue while Secretary," according to the report. The ethics official also asked Norton follow-up questions, but Norton "never responded," the report said.  ...

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics concluded that Norton had "played a significant role" in the oil-shale program while secretary and said that her "participation in the program should subject her to the lifetime ban on communicating with the federal government regarding the program," the report said. ...

Politico and Federal News Radio have more.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, Issues: Conflicts of Interest, Issues: Misuse of Position, Issues: Post Employment | Permalink

November 30, 2010

DOJ Inspector General to Resign

BLT (blog of Legal Times magazine) reports that Department of Justice Inspector Glenn Fine is resigning after a decade in one of the most prestigious oversight jobs.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, News | Permalink

November 22, 2010

Independence of U.S. Afghan IG Questioned

POGO and others have raised questions concering the indendence of the U.S. Special  Inspector General for Afghanistan.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

November 13, 2010

OGE 2009 Prosecution Survey

The Office of Government Ethics issued DAEOgram DO-10-017 on November 9, 2010 announcing the publication of the 2009 Conflict of Interest Prosecution Survey.   The survey contains summaries of cases involving conflict of interest violations.  The Department of Justice prosecuted the cases. See http://www.usoge.gov/ethics_guidance/daeograms/dgr_files/2010/do10017.pdf

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Conflicts of Interest, Issues: Financial Disclosure, Issues: Gifts, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Issues: Misuse of Position, Issues: Outside Activities, Issues: Post Employment, OGE | Permalink

November 09, 2010

DOJ IG report on US Attorney travel practies (Nov. 2010)

The report found most U.S. Attorney's followed the rules and per diem limits.  For the small number of U.S. Attorneys, who routinely exceeded the government rate, the IG found they did so by large amounts, with insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification.  See full report at http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/plus/o1011.pdf.

See also http://www.mainjustice.com/2010/11/08/inspector-general-report-targets-u-s-attorney-travel-costs/print/

Posted by Account Deleted in Inspectors General, Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Issues: Travel | Permalink

October 02, 2010

Permanent IG for Wartime Contracting?

The expansion of IG authorities in the Inspector General Reform Act in 2008 and the steady increase in the number of IGs demonstrate a high level of Congressional confidence in the IG concept. The latest manifestation is discussed in a recent Government Executive article:

Senator calls for permanent wartime contracting watchdog.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

September 21, 2010

NASA IG says Bolden should not have called Marathon re biofuels project

Space News reports on the Inspector General findings in a controversy surrounding the NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. They found he should not have consulted Marathon Oil Corp. about a NASA-funded biofuels project, but did not violate federal laws or conflict-of-interest regulations by seeking the counsel of a company on whose board he previously served.  He did however violate his 2 year recusal under the Ethics Pledge and raise an appearance of a conflict of interest.  See full article at http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/100920-fromwires-ig-bolden-called-marathon.html.

See NASA IG report: http://oig.nasa.gov/investigations/OMEGA-Report.pdf

Of note, the NASA IG disagreed with NASA attorneys determination that the matter did not need to be referred to the inspector general.

See initial article on same at http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/100621-fromwires-bolden-biofuels-controversy.html

Posted by Team 2 in Inspectors General, Issues: Conflicts of Interest, News | Permalink

June 22, 2010

District Court Dismisses Ex-IG Walpin's Claims

The Sacramento Bee reports on a U.S. District Court's dismissal of the claim of a disgruntled IG reported here previously. A copy of the decision dismissing the suit is available.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

June 02, 2010

IG Report on MMS

The recent Department of the Interior Inspector General report on improprieties in the Minerals Management Service is available. This is not the first OIG report to address similar MMS problems, which we discussed in a September 10, 2008 posting.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, Issues: Conflicts of Interest, Issues: Gifts | Permalink

May 25, 2010

NY Times article on Minerals Management Service Ethical lapses.

See full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/us/25mms.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

Posted by Team 2 in Inspectors General, News | Permalink

May 11, 2010

Where Are the Watchdogs? - The Center for Public Integrity

Where Are the Watchdogs? - The Center for Public Integrity:

At least 15 of the 73 inspectors general, chief auditors, or whistleblower protection jobs across government currently are vacant or are being covered by acting officials, according to a Center for Public Integrity review. Many of the openings have languished for a year or more.

Gov Exec's Fedblog has some additional thoughts:

But I think it's important to include some context here. According to the appointments the Washington Post is tracking, only 70.9 percent of the positions Obama has to fill are filled with confirmed appointees. 79.5 percent of Inspectors General positions are filled with permanent officials, according to the Center's own statistics. So watchdogs are actually doing somewhat better than federal positions as a whole in terms of getting appointed and confirmed.

And I also think it's worth interrogating the idea that career officials in acting positions are actually less stable than confirmed people, given the scandals that have rocked the IG community, and that the Center points out. I think it would actually make a lot of sense to have career folks hold IG slots for set term limits. But then, of course, as the Government Accountability Office proves, when it comes to filling someone when that term is up or that person steps down, the molasses-like pace of the appointment and confirmation process is still going to prevent a smooth transition.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

April 27, 2010

DHA IG report FEMA Procurement and Conflict problems

DHS Inspector General report on FEMA's problems with conflicts of interests related to the National Flood Insurance Program IT Transformation. http://www.dhs.gov/xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIG_10-76_Mar10.pdf. While the recommendations primarily involved procurement related integrity issues, of note were recommendations to better identify those who should be financial disclosure filers and also who should receive ethics training, as well as the recommendation that training be conducted in person.

See GovExec article at http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=45113&dcn=e_gvet 

Posted by Team 2 in Inspectors General, Issues: Conflicts of Interest | Permalink

April 16, 2010

Guarding the Guardians

Several recent press releases from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General document serious sanctions against Standards of Conduct violations by Federal law enforcement personnel involving criminal conduct:

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, News | Permalink

March 11, 2010

Disciplinary Action for OMB Budget Threat

A Government Executive story on NextGov highlights the significance of IG independence:
An Office of Management and Budget staffer crossed the line when he threatened to "make life miserable" for the Office of Personnel Management's inspector general if he complained to Congress about his fiscal 2011 budget, a recent investigation has found.

The internal review by OMB's general counsel concluded that the career program examiner made inappropriate remarks with the OPM IG's office in January and should be disciplined for his actions. ...

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

February 25, 2010

VA OIG substantiates ethics allegations

Dept. of Veterans Affairs Inspector General substantiated, in an administrative investigation, abuse of authority, misuse of position and resources, acceptance of gratuities, and interferences with an OIG investigation, by officials in the National Programs & Special Events.  See full redacted report 2009-1492-IQ-0117) at http://www4.va.gov/oig/51/FY2010rpts/VAOIG-09-01492-83.pdf.  Charges included:

- Misuse of Resources - official time, subordinate time, government travel, and computer systems.

- Improper acceptance of gifts from prohibited sources

- Distruction of Evidence & lying to investigators

- Circumventing FAR regulations in award of procurements.


Posted by Team 2 in Inspectors General | Permalink

IGs & Whistleblowers

The Washington Post's Federal Eye columnist discusses a controversial conclusion of a non-profit watchdog group's report:
"It has long been POGO's experience, as well as that of many whistleblower attorneys contacted by POGO, that generally IGs are at best irrelevant to whistleblowers and at worst are part of the problem."

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General, Whistleblowers | Permalink

February 23, 2010

POGO's 12 Proposed Fixes

At least a couple (strengthening whistleblower protection and IG independence) of POGO's Dozen Nonpartisan Good Government Fixes Congress Should Implement in 2010 are of interest to the ethics community.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

November 20, 2009

IGs Tackle Tough Problems

An October Federal Diary column about the annual awards ceremony for Inspectors General had some quotes from attendees that give a flavor for the type of work they do:

Award winner Crystal L. Johnson said "the public's biggest misconception about inspectors general is that "we're really just out to get people." Instead, she said, "We don't assume anybody's guilty, we look at the facts, and then we tell the facts after that."...
"You're not called in for the easy problems, you're called in for the hard problems," Jeffrey Zients, White House chief performance officer and CIGIE executive chairman, told the crowd Tuesday. "You're oftentimes not the most popular person in the room, and I'm sure at times that's very lonely." Regardless, he added: "We are in a period of urgency. This is not a period of business-as-usual or incremental change."

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink