(April 28) Republican senators who press President Trump to stop undermining agency inspectors general are absolutely right. Inspectors general are a crucial means for Congress and the president alike to provide oversight of the sprawling federal bureaucracy, and thus to save taxpayers from waste and fraud.

Trump has been leading something of a war against inspectors general for several months now, with little regard for the spirit of the laws governing those jobs and almost no appreciation for their utility or importance. His various moves against existing inspectors general drew mild early pushback from a few senators of both parties, but it wasn’t clear if the pushback would continue.

Now Politico reports that even Republican senators continue to press Trump to change his attitudes and actions on this front. Leading the way has been veteran Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who long has been the Senate’s foremost advocate of inspectors general. Grassley, though, isn’t the only one.

We need to empower inspectors general to be able to do their work — especially when you’re dealing with trillions of dollars, you’ve got to have good, reasonable oversight over those things,” said Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford in a public interview after sending a letter to the president on the topic. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman joined Lankford’s letter, which said it is in the best interest of the White House to “work with IGs, not against them.”….

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is really important. I can say from first-hand experience as a federal agency employee (decades ago, but the experience remains relevant) that just the knowledge of an inspector general poking around is enough to catalyze civil servants to be more diligent and productive. And that’s just a matter of work pace for honest employees: The threat from inspectors is far greater for would-be scofflaws, certainly keeping some of them from transgressing in the first place….

[The full column is here.]



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