Issa: Obama has ignored IG reforms that save enough money to cover most of sequester

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

President Obama has ignored thousands of recommendations from his administration’s department watchdogs that would collectively save $67 billion per year, almost 80 percent of the cuts mandated by sequestration, according to a House report.

“President Obama should listen to the recommendations of his Administration’s own Inspector Generals and work with Congress to implement common sense spending cuts that target wasteful and poorly performing programs instead of settling for the furloughs and service disruptions happening under the sequester,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR) Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement on the report.

By compiling a list of open recommendations from inspectors general, Obama has not implemented 16,906 recommendations from his inspectors general since 2009, according to the report. In 2009, that number was 10,894, as then-chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., noted in his own report.

The report also notes that Obama has not appointed inspectors general at the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, USAID, the Labor Department, and the Interior Department, which collectively spend $900 billion in Obama’s 2013 budget proposal.

“Long-term IG vacancies weaken the Office of the Inspector General,” the report notes. “An acting official, on the other hand, is known by all OIG staff to be temporary. One former IG has argued that temporary status ‘can have a debilitating effect on [an] OIG,particularly over a lengthy period.’”

(OGR might also have noted that the lack of a permanent IG creates the possibility that the acting inspector will go easy on the administration in hopes of currying favor with the president, as has been suggested in the case of acting Interior Department inspector general Mary Kendall.

“As an acting IG, Mary Kendall’s tenure depends upon pleasing the very people she is supposed to investigate,” Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility executive director Jeff Ruch said, per a House Natural Resources Committee report. “As a result, this watchdog is not just on a very tight leash, it is on a choke chain. To be effective and remain independent, an IG must be willing on a daily basis to get canned or resign if the mission is compromised.”)

“[I]nstead of hyping the impact of the 2.3 percent budget cut, it would be much more productive to stop playing politics and look for areas where we can find real savings,” Issa said at the opening of the hearing today in his prepared statement.

The House report suggested that Congress implement the IG recommendations legislatively if Obama does not do so himself.



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