A report by the Partnership for Public Service suggests several ways that IG offices can better help agency operations, including by looking for themes across their projects to “flag common or agency-wide problems that agency leaders might not see.”

The report, done with the Grant Thornton consulting firm and based on a series of meetings with agency IGs, congressional staff and others, said that such an approach is timely in light of a commission’s recent report on the value of evidence and data in decision-making–which is the basis for legislation moving in Congress–and the White House’s imperative to determine what does or doesn’t work well in government and how programs could be improved.

It said, for example, that in 2017 IGs issued nearly 1,000 reports focusing on IT, and that “when looked at as a group, these reports can provide insight into agency wide or governmentwide issues.”

It further recommended that IGs engage stakeholders more fully from the outset of their work. “IGs who put in time and effort to build trusting relationships with agency officials are more likely to see agency officials shift their program priorities in response to IG findings and recommendations,” it said.

“An IG of the future can fuse data analysis, institutional knowledge and clear reporting to compel agencies to make recommended changes and improvements. These skills could help individual agencies improve how they execute their missions,” it said.