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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New IG council focuses on training, interagency efforts

The nation’s inspectors general are forming a new council that will focus on cross-cutting projects and improved training for IG staffers.

Congress called for creation of the new council in the 2008 Inspector General Reform Act passed last month. The bill has a number of provisions to strengthen inspectors general: It makes them harder to remove, for instance, and adds more transparency to their budgets.

But the council, to be called the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, is the centerpiece of the bill. It will combine two existing IG councils — the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency, both of which were created by executive order — and give the council statutory authority.

“We want to focus on uniform training for the 12,000 people in the IG community, and make that more effective than it’s been in the past,” said Greg Friedman, the Energy Department inspector general and vice president of the PCIE. “And we’ll focus on more interagency projects … on a horizontal basis, looking at the same issues in different agencies.”

Friedman said the council’s exact priorities would be set after it selects a chairman within the next 30 days. One priority sure to be high on the list, he said, is contract management.

“That seems to be a problem at many agencies,” he said. The council will also likely coordinate reports on cybersecurity, financial management and human capital management.

“It’s great that it has the capacity to provide lessons learned governmentwide,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, which advocated for the bill.

“There are so many problems that occur across agencies, and that aren’t addressed by the current structure [of IG councils].”

A group of inspectors general met last week with Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and the chairman of the two existing IG councils.

Friedman said the council would probably also work on programs that cut across agencies. Good-government groups have criticized the IGs for focusing their efforts on management issues in recent years.

-Gregg Carlstrom, FederalTimes.com

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