House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., is urging President Biden to promptly nominate candidates to fill inspector general (IG) vacancies at the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

In a June 5 letter to President Biden, Rep. Comer expressed concern that the currently vacant IG positions weaken the impact of the agency IG offices because temporary leadership is not well-suited for long-term planning and decision-making.

“We are concerned that you have left prolonged vacancies for the position of IG for State and USAID at a time when State and USAID are engaged in sensitive matters impacting U.S. national security interests around the world,” wrote Rep. Comer. “The prolonged vacancy for IG at Treasury could also hamper robust oversight of COVID-19 related spending and mitigation of financial risk and instability.”

IGs – sometimes known as “America’s Watchdogs” – conduct independent oversight of Federal agencies, which is critical to ensuring the efficiency and integrity of the Federal government. According to Rep. Comer, that oversight function roots out government waste, fraud, and abuse, and ensures “Federal agencies serve the American public efficiently and effectively.”

To date, the State Department IG position has been vacant for over 1,100 days with no nominee, the USAID IG position has been vacant for over 850 days, and the Treasury Department IG position has been vacant for almost 1,500 days.

According to Rep Comer, these prolonged periods of top-level vacancies send a message to the American people that oversight and accountability are not a priority for the Biden administration. It also brings into question whether the Biden Administration has intentionally left these positions vacant to avoid increased scrutiny of the impact of its policy decisions, especially with the USAID and the State Department, he asserted.

“IGs also report the results of their audits, investigations, and evaluations to Congress, providing critical information beneficial to our oversight,” Rep. Comer wrote.

“To restore robust oversight over State, USAID, and Treasury, we respectfully request that you immediately nominate, and work to expeditiously confirm, qualified, independent individuals to serve as IGs for those agencies,” he concluded.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.