The Inspector General Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-452) signed by President Carter on October 12, 1978, established Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) in 12 federal agencies. Subsequent amendments of the act expanded the original 12 OIGs to the current 67 establishments. The act gives the Inspectors General (IGs) authority and responsibility to be independent voices for economy, efficiency, and effectiveness within the federal government. Since the time of the IGs creation, Congress has constantly praised the IGs for their contribution to more integrity and accountability in government. The executive branch also recognized the contributions of the IGs. For instance, in 2003, President Bush encouraged the IGs to remain “agents of positive change.” In the same vein, recently, in March 2009, introducing his Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, President Obama acknowledged the effective work done by OIGs in regard to contracting fraud. However, some acclaimed scholars have argued that IGs might have been contributing to more inefficiency rather than to effectiveness in government. This book addresses the issue by evaluating selected components of IGs’ effectiveness in federal agencies as identified and assessed by scholars in the field and by empirically testing the theory in a specific case – the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS IG).
DHS IG has been selected for three main reasons: First, in contrast to major theories that argue that IGs are ineffective because they focus on minor problems and also because their recommendations do not have a positive influence on overall agency performance, DHS IG has been showing significantly positive results on the impact of its recommendations (on average more than 93 percent of its recommendations have been accepted by the host agency during FYs 2003–2008) while also continually achieving an increasing amount of recoveries and savings. Second, DHS IG also represents a typical case challenging the existing theory because, in contrast to theories that IGs are ineffective because they focus on small problems overlooking the big systemic problems of the hosting agency, DHS IG has been positively addressing the systemic problem of contracting in DHS. This is crucial, especially considering that DHS is one of the largest agencies in contract spending (with $15.7 billion for FY 2006). Third, DHS IG represents a critical case because, despite the systemic problems in its hosting agency, DHS IG has been achieving increasingly positive outcomes.
Overall, the results of this study show that DHS IG has accomplished positive results related to the elements of effectiveness identified by the theory. Finally, while the concept of IGs’ effectiveness is difficult to define, the selected components analyzed in this book through an embedded case study design can be used to evaluate other federal IGs. This approach can help reveal new elements of IGs’ effectiveness at the federal level