The inspector general in charge of uncovering fraud and waste at the Pentagon says the sequester won’t force any furloughs in his office, but a hiring freeze, scaled-back overtime and other cuts will hurt oversight work.
“With fewer dollars and ultimately fewer people, the true cost of sequestration is the lost opportunities for oversight,” Defense Department Acting Assistant IG Brett Mansfield wrote in a letter to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Shaheen has sent letters to IGs across government asking about the impact of the sequester, but Mansfield’s office is taking the biggest hit.
Out of about $100 million cut from dozens of federal IGs’ offices due to the sequester, the Defense IG is losing $28 million.
Mansfield told Shaheen that his office has implemented a selective hiring freeze, restricted overtime, limited travel, cut supply purchases and stopped all outside training.
While no furloughs will be needed, Mansfield said the reduced funding “will prevent the DOD IG from achieving planned increases in our oversight capabilities.”
In a statement to Federal Times, Shaheen said overall IG cutbacks will lead to lost opportunities to cut waste and uncover fraud.
“Sequester is expected to lead to furloughs in several of these IG offices and hurt critical audit, investigation and training abilities, in turn, making it harder to exercise oversight and identify opportunities for cutting government waste,” she said.
Former Defense IG Joe Schmitz said IGs’ offices trying to save their budgets should ensure their own operations are lean.
“I flattened my leadership and basically proved how to be more efficient,” he said.
“Then after I had done that, I had the credibility to go to [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld and say, ‘Look, if you’re trying to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse, you don’t want to cut your IG. You just want to make sure your IG is running efficiently in doing that for you.” ■