During Hillary Clinton’s entire four-year tenure as secretary of state, the State Department did not have a permanent inspector general, a position that serves as an independent watchdog to ensure that the agency complies with established policies and does not engage in misconduct, NPR
At a Wednesday hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, told the panel that the lack of a permanent inspector general (IG) at the State Department "raises the obvious question as to whether someone at the agency would have blown the whistle on the secretary's refusal to use government emails, had there been a real watchdog in place."
During an investigation into the 2012 terrorist attacks at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, it was discovered that while secretary of state, Clinton eschewed a government email system in lieu of her personal server and email account run out of her New York home.
Steve A. Linick became the inspector general
for the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors on Sept. 30, 2013, according to the agency’s website. Clinton left the agency on Feb. 1, 2013.
The situation at the State Department is not an exception, according to Brian, who testified that at the end of the month, seven IG positions will have been vacant for at least a year. And the Obama administration has nominated permanent IGs for just three of the seven vacancies.
The Department of the Interior, Veterans Affairs, the Export Import Bank and the CIA languish without a permanent IG.
The trouble-plagued VA has lacked a permanent inspector general for some 519 days, according to a Project on Government Oversight report
titled, "Where are all the Watchdogs?"
This despite a whistleblower’s revelations last year that thousands of veterans had never been added to official appointment wait lists and that some had died waiting for care. The disclosure sparked a comprehensive investigation revealing widespread problems within the sprawling VA healthcare system.
The wait for a permanent IG at the VA pales in comparison to the Department of the Interior, McClatchy
reports, where the position has been vacant for more than six years. The post at the CIA has been vacant for the least amount of time, just more than four months.
President Barack Obama has submitted nominees for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Agency for International Development, and the General Services Administration, which have been without an IG for 617 days, 1,328 days and 410 days, respectively, according to the report.
Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, pointed out at the hearing that temporary IG appointees "are not truly independent" and due to their interim status "do not drive office policy, and they are at greater risk of compromising their work to appease the agency or the president," according to NPR.
The Project on Government Oversight’s Brian underscored the importance of permanent IGs and told the committee that without them, the likelihood of uncovering government wrongdoing drops, according to McClatchy.
"Among the most pervasive threats to IG independence and effectiveness are the longstanding vacancies that have languished at IG offices," she said.
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