If Trump and the American people care about draining the swamp, we should take seriously the findings of the Inspectors General and embrace them as the Government watchdogs they are.
It’s hard to think of a better ally for the American taxpayer than the Government Accountability Office and the 71 Offices of the Inspectors General (OIGs). These government watchdogs work to protect our tax dollars, continuously evaluating different programs and activities to identify waste, fraud, and abuse.
Over the last five years, the Inspectors General offices have combined to publish more than 15,000 reports containing more than 36,000 recommendations and $120.89 billion in potential savings.
Unfortunately, President Trump has made a series of moves and statements that undermine the OIGs, including removing the Department of Defense IG who was about to head up oversight over the $2 trillion Coronavirus Response package, firing the National Intelligence IG, and criticizing the Health and Human Services IG.
The IGs do not provide partisan recommendations. Rather, they are consistently watching over the thousands upon thousands of ways that the trillions upon trillions of our dollars get spent from DC each year. They ensure that our tax dollars are being used for their intended purposes.
To illustrate, let’s run through a few examples of the recent findings of the aforementioned IGs.
The HHS OIG looked into whether National Institute of Health (NIH) grant recipients are complying with conflict of interest policy requirements. Only 50 percent of grant recipients met the federal requirements – exposing the $1.2 billion in taxpayer support paid to these institutions to undue influence from foreign sources. This includes China, who has been suspected of infiltrating American research universities to steal research and technology – including military advances.
The DoD OIG found $1 billion in improper payments in just the employee travel pay system alone. Given the President’s concern with rebuilding the military, wasted payments translate to lost resources for the troops.
In a report from the National Intelligence IG, they found $900,000 in questionable transactions over a 9-month period, of which $285,000 were determined to be inappropriate. These inappropriate charges include $2,392 for personal cruise line tickets, $1,568 for Walt Disney World tickets, and $1,011 spent at a yacht marina. The IG also identified $636 million in bonus fees to federal contractors that lacked proper justification.
There will inevitably be waste and inefficiencies in the $5 trillion enterprise of the federal government. But, the level of waste, fraud, and graft would be infinitely higher without the hard work of the OIGs.
Instead of undermining and firing the Inspectors General, President Trump should embrace and empower their important work. And encourage agencies to act on the recommendations that will save us some money. The taxpayers of America need all the help we can get.