This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Inspector General Act of 1978, but the concept of oversight goes all the way back to the country’s founding when General George Washington adopted a European practice by appointing agents to inspect his army and report their findings.
Still, four decades of curbing waste, fraud, and abuse and promoting economy and efficiency in government is worth celebrating – and the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) is doing just that. Last week, it hosted the “Building on 40 Years of Excellence in Independent Oversight” conference that featured addresses by Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, and Watergate journalist Bob Woodward. They and other panelists discussed the past, present, and future roles of OIGs.
On its website, CIGIE also gives a short video overview of the history of the Act as well as information about the role and contributions of federal inspectors general.
Let’s consider that history. In October 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed the IG Act, establishing the first 12 presidentially-appointed inspectors general in federal departments and agencies. In the 40 years since, the IG community has grown to include 73 statutory inspectors general, who collectively oversee the operations of nearly all aspects of federal government.
Congress has modified the IG Act many times over the years to give IGs better tools to battle fraud, waste, and abuse, and to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in agency operations. The most recent upgrade was the IG Empowerment Act of 2016, H.R. 6450.
We — the U.S. Postal Service OIG — are relatively young. Just over 20 years old, we were formed when President Clinton signed the amended Inspector General Act of 1978 in 1997 to establish an independent enforcement and oversight agency for the Postal Service. Since then, we have worked to fulfill our mission of ensuring efficiency, accountability, and integrity in the Postal Service. We work to maintain confidence in the postal system and improve the Postal Service’s bottom line through independent audits and investigations.
Do you know how much money OIGs save the federal government each year? If not, you might want to visit Oversight.gov to find out.