15% of jobs in the inspector general community are currently unfilled. Some oversight roles in the biggest government agencies, like the Department of Defense, are currently there in an acting capacity. Liz Hempowicz, policy director of the Project on Government Oversight, says that these vacancies are quickly becoming an issue.
“The reason we started [tracking vacancies] was because at that time there were 10 vacancies in the IG offices. We see that as significant enough vacancies that it really does call into question the ability of those inspectors general to do a thorough job conducting oversight over their agencies,” Hempowicz said. “We now have more vacancies than when we started tracking in 2012. We now have 11 vacancies across the IG offices. I’m really happy that CIGIE is taking this initiative over from us, and will be calling more public attention to the vacancies.”
Jon Rymer, former Defense Department IG and principal at Lynch Consultants, says that while acting IGs are capable people there are some things that are better done with a Senate-confirmed official.
“I would say that experienced inspectors general know the job and are capable of doing it. There are cases though where an acting inspector general may be reluctant to make decisions that may be viewed as more permanent. My view is If there is a risk to a large number of open positions, it’s that,” Rymer said. “There could be changes in the law that require changes to policy and procedures within an office, or may suddenly change the relationship between the IG’s office and the Secretary’s office. Those are things that a confirmed IG would be less reluctant to move forward on.”