from the hill

Budget Cuts to IG Offices will Prove More Costly in the Long Run

Inspectors general from 24 agencies say they are suffering under President Donald Trump’s hiring freeze. 

The freeze, in combination with budget cuts, could put their oversight duties at risk and potentially cost the nation more money than it could save.

A survey conducted by Democratic staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found IGs fearing that fewer staff due to the freeze and cuts would inhibit their ability to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

“The best way to reduce fraud in a program like disability insurance or at an agency like the EPA is not a blanket reduction in the agency’s budget, but to fund [IGs] and enforcement offices that rein in that abuse,” a survey respondent stated.

And experts agree. Liz Hempowicz, policy counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, said “This administration has spoken about a commitment to rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse at the federal level. The way to do that is not by gutting the staffs of the inspectors general. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency has estimated that potential savings reflect about a $17 return on every $1 invested in the IGs. Reducing IG resources is not the way to demonstrate a commitment to limiting government waste.”

And in the past, hiring freezes caused decreased oversight of federal programs by making it difficult for the IGs to do their jobs, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The survey memo stated in 2015, IGs “resulted in significant improvements to the economy and efficiency of programs governmentwide, with potential savings totaling approximately $36.6 billion.” In 2015, IGs secured more than 5,000 successful prosecutions as well.

Without the necessary oversight, a myriad of expensive issues can creep up in the federal government, including increased fraud at the Treasury Department, cybersecurity issues at the Interior Department, and the careful watch of $300 billion in Defense Department acquisitions. 

“As careful stewards of taxpayer money, we fully appreciate and respect the importance of prudently allocating federal resources,” said Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department IG, during the Feb. 1 hearing. “However, given our track record of returning to the Treasury far more money than we are budgeted, we believe careful consideration should be given before impacting our ability to root out waste, fraud and abuse.

 

Posted in From the Hill

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