Republican senators urged Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to shift about $4 million from AmeriCorps to the IG's office to prevent the layoffs. (Kris Connor / Getty Images)
Efforts by several lawmakers to avert drastic downsizing at a federal inspector general's office appear to have failed.
At the IG's office, which oversees the Corporation for National and Community Service, most of the staff will likely be gone by mid-March.
The office sent reduction-in-force notices to 26 employees last week. Three have taken other government jobs, agency spokesman Bill Hillburg said Friday; those who don't leave on their own will be laid off March 17. The agency is also revamping its original 2012 workplan to eliminate most audits and evaluations, Hillburg said.
The office took the steps after Congress slashed funding for the IG's office by almost half, from $7.7 million to $4 million, in the 2012 omnibus appropriations. Earlier this month, the office's acting chief, Kenneth Bach, told lawmakers he is “confident” that some employees will land jobs with other inspectors general. After the impending layoffs were first reported by Federal Times on Jan. 9, three Republican senators urged Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to shift about $4 million from AmeriCorps to the IG's office to prevent the layoffs. Urging the shifting of funds were Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Susan Collins, R-Maine and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
But Kate Cyrul, a spokeswoman for Harkin, who opposed the funding cut, said there is little chance now of undoing the reduction.
“It is unrealistic to think that Congress could reopen” the catch-all 2012 spending bill “and pass a new law to address funding for only one program, as worthwhile as it may be,” Cyrul said.
But Enzi spokesman Joe Brenckle, said there is no need to reopen the spending bill to provide the funds needed to avoid the layoffs. “Many agencies are allowed limited transfer authority under appropriations law to address this type of issue,” Brenckle said in an email to Federal Times. “A onetime transfer authority is hardly a substantial change and could be accomplished through unanimous consent in both the House and Senate.”
Harkin, who chairs the Senate spending panel that writes the IG's budget, has blamed the cut on Republicans.