(The Center Square) – House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter to President Joe Biden Monday requesting the filling of the long-vacant inspecter general positions at the Department of State, Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The IGs are federal watchdogs who audit the agencies to which they are assigned and report the results of their investigations to Congress to ensure proper oversight.
“At a minimum, leaving in place acting IGs for prolonged periods of time sends a message to the American people that oversight and accountability is not a priority for the Biden Administration,” the letter said. “With respect to State and USAID, it also raises questions as to whether the Biden Administration has intentionally left these positions vacant to avoid increased scrutiny into the impact of its policy decisions.”
Comer mentioned that not only have IGs not yet been confirmed for the departments, but also that for some, no nominations have been made at this time.
Critics say failing to fill these watchdog roles could open the door for widespread waste, fraud and abuse.
According to Comer, “the U.S. Department of State (State) IG position has been vacant for over 1,100 days with no nominee; the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) IG position has been vacant for over 850 days; and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) IG position has been vacant for almost 1,500 days.”
Comer said these oversight roles are particularly important because of the State Department and USAID’s involvement in U.S. national security interests.
“The prolonged vacancy for IG at Treasury could also hamper robust oversight of COVID-19 related spending and mitigation of financial risk and instability,” Comer said. “Ongoing vacancies weaken IG offices, because temporary leadership is not well-suited for long-term planning and decision making. We respectfully request that you immediately nominate, and work to expeditiously confirm, qualified, independent individuals to serve as IGs for those agencies.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.