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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

As sequestration cuts loom, unimplemented IG recommendations could save billions

Over the past few years, unimplemented agency inspector general recommendations that could potentially save the government billions of dollars have piled up.

Now, with $85 billion in automatic budget cuts kicking in, lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are telling agencies there's no excuse for them to further delay implementing the cost-saving measures and best practices identified by their IGs.

In 2009, there were 10,894 open IG recommendations, according to a report released by the oversight committee ahead of a hearing Tuesday. But by 2012, that number had grown to 16,906, representing a potential $67 billion in savings.

And if agencies won't act on those recommendations, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the oversight committee, said he will.

Issa's committee has sought to forge close ties with agency watchdogs. In January, a letter from both the House and Senate oversight committees called on the Obama administration to fill persistent vacancies in the IG ranks.

The IG community is also beset by a spate of longstanding vacancies including those at six large agencies: the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

According to the committee, there's a connection between vacancies and unimplemented recommendations. Among the agencies with most unfulfilled recommendations are those with long-term vacancies in their IG offices.

Long-term vacancies "weaken the office of the Inspector General," the report stated. "A permanent IG has the ability to set a long-term strategic plan for the office, including setting investigative and audit priorities. An acting official, on the other hand, is known by all OIG staff to be temporary."

-Jack Moore, FederalNewsRadio.com

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