WASHINGTON ― Feeling that there is a case for inspector general offices to have a greater impact in improving the government, a brief written by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton Public Sector outlines some recommendations.
The brief’s foundation was a summer 2017 congregation organized by Partnership and Grant Thornton of inspectors general, federal auditors and congressional oversight committee staff at three separate events.
The brief cited the Food and Drug Administration’s 2017 performance as a key cause for concern for government performance. While the FDA was technically complying with federal laws, it had not taken timely action to address previously discovered violations, was wasting resources in inspecting obsolete facilities via out of data information, and was inspecting thousands fewer food distribution facilities.
Thus, the focal point of the event was about emphasizing how IGs should better evaluate effective execution of agency missions beyond simple bureaucratic compliance with federal laws and cited key recommendations as to how to do so.
Firstly, the brief illustrated the need for IGs to help agencies find common ground on particular issues and thus better assist them in performance improvement. Oversight.gov, a portal that provides info on inspector general work, was cited as an effective outlet to collect commonalities in agency issues.
Second, the brief accentuated the need for greater IG engagement with stakeholders, specifically employees within federal agencies and congress. Considering that IGs have no authority in forcing agencies to implement their recommendations, the brief that it is up to them to present their findings in a manner that compels stakeholders to action.
A congressional aide stated that knowing what an inspector general plans on working on in the coming year can help congressional staff members prioritize their own agendas. Furthermore, IG’s must be able to substantially establish trust with stakeholders in order for them to properly shift their priorities to IG recommendations.
The brief subsequently showcased a finding from the Commission on Evidence-Based Policy-making, which stated that a lack of significant data resources can be responsible for IG’s over emphasis on mere law compliance. Thus, the brief outlines a need to have senior data management officials, as well as better privacy-protecting technologies.
Finally, a participant at an IG roundtable stated that IG offices are often assessed by the number of audits they complete, rather than the quality of said audits. Thus, the brief ultimately calls for training and recruitment of highly-skilled IG workforce, specifically in IT, methodology creativity and data analysis.