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FCW : May 15, 2015
In 2013, inspectors general from 78 government offices processed a stun- ning 619,460 complaints that came in through their hotlines. That’s 1,697 per day. In the same year, IGs claimed 19,000 indictments or criminal investigations, “successful” prosecutions, and suspensions or debarments, according to the annual report by the Council of the Inspec- tors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). Interestingly, in 1995, there were considerably fewer take- downs. CIGIE’s report for that year indicates there were 8,273 “successful” prosecutions, debar- ments, exclusions and suspen- sions of people or companies doing business with the federal government. So have government and industry become more derelict — or have the IG offices become more fer- vent in their pursuits? IGs are charged with the critical function of rooting out waste, fraud and abuse at their respective agencies. Their role was created in 1978 as an important safeguard in an unwieldy system in which taxpayer dollars might be subject to misuse. In recent years, however, it seems IGs have traded their magnifying glass- es for microscopes and are prosecut- ing cases that in years past would have been handled administratively (for those at the highest level) or in the woodshed (for those at the low- est level). In its 2013 report to the president, CIGIE claimed that IGs’ prosecutions “strengthened programs” and “result- ed in significant improvements to the economy.” But my own quiet conversations with industry leaders, government executives and our hard-working public servants suggest a different and troubling reality: Increased oversight, including the feverish rate of probes by the IGs, is creating a fearful paralysis in the entire federal system. Drawing attention to the problem The IT community is especially hard- hit by the chill. In a world in which systems and partnerships must neces- sarily be nimble and collabora- tive, fear of the IG has virtually frozen communications — and progress. Government officials — espe- cially those in the acquisition function, who are afraid of even the appearance of favoritism or impropriety — often choose to avoid direct contact with indus- try, even though such discourse is heralded as an important busi- ness practice under the Federal Acquisition Regulation and is actively supported by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and Defense Department leaders. Those communication barriers between government and industry are hardly new or unacknowledged. Since 2011, OFPP has actively cham- pioned a “myth-busting” campaign that is designed to dispel assumptions and fears about government interactions with industry. OFPP’s administrator at the time, Dan Gordon, sorted rumor from rule regarding meetings, con- Overcoming fear of the inspector general BY KYMM Mc CABE Overly aggressive oversight on the part of IGs is costing a fortune and stifling communication between agencies and vendors 30 May 15, 2015 FCW.COM AcquisitionMatters Increased oversight, including the feverish rate of probes by the IGs, is creating a fearful paralysis in the entire federal system. 0515fcw_030-032.indd 30 4/20/15 2:27 PM
April 30, 2015
May 30, 2015