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Thursday, August 07, 2014

IGs warn of potential threats to all inspectors general

Inspectors general from 47 agencies are backing three fellow auditors from the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Peace Corps over what they say are limits on access to information put on them by agency senior officials.

In a letter to the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the IGs say auditors from those three agencies recently faced restrictions on their access to certain records.

"In each of these instances, we understand that lawyers in these agencies construed other statutes and law applicable to privilege in a manner that would override the express authorization contained in the IG Act," the IGs wrote. "These restrictive readings of the IG Act represent potentially serious challenges to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner."

In the letter to the oversight committees, the IGs detail their concerns for each of the three agencies.

The IGs asked for members of Congress to provide a strong reaffirmation of the powers granted them under the IG Act.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) released the letter as part of his long-standing support of IG independence.

Congress has sought to empower IGs even more over the last few years. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is drafting a bill to give small agency auditors more power.

At a hearing January before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, three agency IGs &mash; Justice, Peace Corps and the Small Business Administration — told lawmakers that slashed budgets and dwindling staff sizes are hindering their ability to conduct robust oversight.

Additionally, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) wants Congress to give IGs more authority to use computer matching programs to root out waste, fraud and abuse.

IGs as a group last received a boost in 2008 when Congress passed and then- President George W. Bush signed into law the Inspectors General Reform Act.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Monday, August 04, 2014

Massive inconsistencies continue to affect USASpending.gov data

Agencies have not been properly reporting their grants and loans to USASpending.gov, according to the Government Accountability Office. A probe of data on the website found that only 2-to-7 percent of awards listed were entirely consistent when checked against agencies records.

"Although agencies generally reported information for contracts to USASpending.gov, they did not properly report information on assistance awards, totaling nearly $619 billion," GAO said in its report it released Friday.

GAO said the most common data inconsistency were descriptions of an award's place of performance. The names of recipients are the most consistent between records and online. GAO could not determine how consistent other award records were because agencies' records were incomplete or inadequate.

The report said 10 percent of awards information could not be verified and a significant amount of information could not be verified about program source information and the state of performance.

Among the inconsistencies, GAO found that some online awards records did not have verifiable data from their issuing agencies. The Office of Management and Budget placed requirements on agencies to ensure their data has substantiated information and verifying documents, but GAO said the standards have not been effective.

Federal funding of the improperly reported awards totaled $619 billion. GAO recommended OMB issue guidance clarifying agencies' reporting requirements.

It also wants agencies to keep better records to verify information on USASpending.gov and wants an oversight process to regularly check consistency between the records.

GAO's report is not the first time USASpending.gov has come under fire. In 2013, OMB gave agencies a November 2014 deadline to assure that all information on the site is accurate.

- Ariel Levin-Waldman, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, August 01, 2014

DOT Official Brodi Fontenot Nominated as Treasury Dept CFO

Brodi Fontenot, currently a Transportation Department official, has received a presidential nomination to serve as the Treasury Department‘s next chief financial officer, the White House announced Thursday.

Fontenot’s roles at DOT include assistant secretary for administration, chief human capital officer and senior sustainability officer.

He joined that agency in 2009 as deputy assistant secretary of management and budget after serving on the Senate Budget Committee’s staff for three years.

Between 2001 and 2006, he worked as a Government Accountability Office analyst and helped the agency with budgeting, disaster assistance and housing matters.

He holds a master of public administration degree from the University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston.

-Mary-Louise Hoffman, ExecutiveGov.com