The United States Agency for International Development has a confirmed inspector general to lead its oversight of foreign assistance programs and tens of billion dollars of aid to Ukraine.
Paul K. Martin, who most recently served as inspector general at NASA and worked previously at the Department of Justice, was confirmed by voice vote late Monday.
Martin partially completes a triumvirate of confirmed inspectors general who play a leading role in providing continued independent review of the U.S. supply of money and military equipment to Ukraine. The Pentagon’s inspector general and the State Department’s acting watchdog have been working with USAID as a joint coalition to identify and investigate allegations of waste, fraud or abuse.
Martin, who was nominated in July, testified that his priorities include “increasing the office’s tempo of audits, evaluations, and investigations into USAID funds provided to Ukraine.”
As Congress has pushed for keeping tabs on U.S. support for the war effort, some have proposed establishing a separate inspector general, as was created for Afghanistan reconstruction in 2008. However, Martin and others have said that could be counterproductive and confuse existing lines of authority.
Instead, Martin asked Congress to ensure his office and others have adequate funding in 2024 and beyond to hire and retain enough on-site auditors to meet lawmakers’ demands for oversight.
“Since 2019, our operating expense funds have increased at half the rate that our programming has grown —giving us more to do with fewer people and resources,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power about the agency’s $85 million budget request for fiscal 2024.
Martin’s confirmation fills a longstanding vacancy that was last occupied by Ann Calvaresi Barr, who retired from federal service in 2020.
The Biden administration has been pressed to fill its lingering watchdog vacancies to ensure each agency and area of federal response has an independent investigator assigned to it to manage audits and address complaints or reports of possible civil or criminal infractions.
In fiscal 2022, the latest year for which data is available, inspector general offices collectively saved $63.5 billion from audit recommendations and $6.6 billion from receivables and recoveries, according to the annual report prepared by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
USAID is a federal agency responsible for coordinating civilian foreign aid and development assistance. It employs more than 10,000 people.
Martin O’Malley confirmed as Social Security commissioner
The Senate also confirmed Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor and Baltimore city mayor, to lead the Social Security Administration in a 50-11 vote.
“Looking forward to getting to work with the hard working public servants of Social Security,” O’Malley tweeted after the vote.
Some Republicans joined mostly Democrats in confirming the candidate’s seat Monday night.
O’Malley, who also holds a law degree, has been known to emphasize the importance of data in public policy decisions — experience that is likely to help an agency criticized for inefficient processing of disability and income security benefits to millions of Americans.
“Over the years, Gov. O’Malley has proven, both in deeds and words, his commitment to inspiring dedicated public sector workers by giving them the resources and direction they need to succeed,” said Som Ramrup, president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, in a statement.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.