Like many parts of the executive branch, the oversight community has a vacancy problem. Many inspector general positions are filled in an acting capacity, and several jobs below them are empty. Allison Lerner, Inspector General at the National Science Foundation and Vice Chair of CIGIE, says that a tight community of IGs makes the process run smoother.
“The most important thing is that we have a community. The challenges that we grapple with as inspectors general aren’t limited to one agency. In many instances, they cross. Sometimes it is the whole of government and sometimes selected groups,” Lerner said. “We will work best at doing our jobs when we can work together to grapple with these issues. CIGIE has been a tremendous facilitator, taking disparate groups, bringing them into one and helping forge the relationships that make us work better together.”
Scott Dahl, Chairman of the Integrity Committee at the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency and Department of Labor IG, says that acting inspectors general have a much more difficult time making decisions, which impacts the overall health of the community.
“You may not feel empowered to take certain actions and may not be getting the traction that you would with the stakeholders if you were in the permanent position. I think that’s compounded for IGs because of the independent role we have,” Dahl said. “So, if there’s a perception that the acting official may be in play for the permanent position, then there are questions about her actions and her motives, whether she is trying to pander to a certain audience to get that position. And so, some of those decisions that may be perfectly legitimate become questioned because of the independent role we have. I think it is important to get someone in that role who has that authority and is empowered to make certain decisions.”