We were caught off guard this morning by a Wall Street Journal report revealing that several federal agencies had not filled Inspector General (IG) vacancies. Some agencies, like the State Department, have not had an inspector general since 2008! There are 78 inspector generals in the United States. Or at least there should be. Many see the position as critical for protecting whistleblowers and investigating their complaints.
The original Inspector General Act was passed by Congress in 1978. The position serves as an important internal watchdog and investigates reports of fraud, mismanagement, abuse and waste. It is usually the first stop for agency whistleblowers seeking help and wishing to report misconduct. With many of the positions left vacant in the Obama administration, some are questioning the administration’s commitment to whistleblowers.
According to the WSJ article, many of the vacancies are in government’s largest agencies. The State Department, Labor, Interior and Homeland Security all have vacant inspector general positions.
Recently there has been an increase in partisan bickering over presidential appointments. (The President must nominate the Inspector General in the larger agencies with the Senate being asked to confirm the nomination.) While this normally might account for some delay in filling vacant IG positions, no one has even been nominated for any of the key vacancies.
Whistleblowers are less likely to come forward without knowing that a permanent IG is in place to investigate their concerns. Like their private sector counterparts, federal employee whistleblowers want to know their claims will be properly investigating before taking the risk of coming forward.
While both private sector and public employee whistleblowers are protected by anti-retaliation laws, public sector workers usually can’t avail themselves of federal and state false claims acts. These laws pay a cash award to people coming forward with information about fraud or loss to a government program. For government employees, the only reward is often simply knowing they did the right thing. For these workers, it is critical to have an inspector general in place to investigate their complaints.
If you wish to become a whistleblower or simply want to know if you have a claim, give us a call. Our whistleblower lawyers primarily represent people with claims against private companies and vendors who are ripping off taxpayers. We have represented federal workers in several notable whistleblower retaliation cases, however. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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Post by Brian Mahany, Esq.