As controversies swirl around inspector general offices in various government agencies—namely, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency—Congress will look deeper into the allegations of wrongdoing this week and attempt to do something about it.
Tasked with routing out waste, fraud, and corruption within the federal government, inspectors general in about a dozen different agencies have now fallen under investigation themselves. Former and current federal employees allege that the watchdogs—many of whom are presidential appointees—lack independence from the Bush administration and interfere with investigations. In other cases, inspectors general say they have been intimidated by top agency officials.
On Wednesday, State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Seven former and current State officials say that Krongard's political affinity with the Bush administration has blinded his independence and led him to halt waste and fraud investigations, censor reports, and refuse to send any investigators to Iraq and Afghanistan. Krongard denies the charges, saying that a limited budget and small staff curtailed his ability to send investigators abroad.
Also on Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to mark up a bipartisan bill aimed at strengthening inspector general offices. The bill would require that Congress be notified of any proposed removal of an inspector general and that a council be established to review allegations of wrongdoing by inspectors general. Similar bipartisan legislation was approved in the House by a vote of 404 to 11.