Federal Manager's Daily Report

OMB has told agencies that they should have a “cooperative relationship” with inspector general offices and should “promptly respond to IG reports to preclude lingering open recommendations.”

Memo M-22-04 addresses two issues, lack of cooperation with audits and investigations and lack of compliance with recommendations, that independent IG offices have raised for years and that have resulted in congressional hearings and numerous bills still pending in Congress.

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“It is the President’s expectation that executive departments and agencies will restore and respect the integrity and independence of their respective agency inspectors general, and work with the Congress to ensure that IG offices can exercise their vital oversight role,” says the memo.

“As leaders of your respective agencies, you and your staff have an obligation to cooperate with your respective IG offices as they fulfill their statutory responsibilities under the IG Act. In recent years, there have been concerns that executive branch agencies have not consistently provided their IGs with the full cooperation and access to which they are entitled under the law,” it says.

It says for example that a review earlier this year by the central IG council found that “many agencies have not routinely communicated with their staff regarding the role of the IG and expectations for staff engagement with IGs. In contrast, it said that a generally cooperative approach toward oversight of pandemic relief spending has “demonstrated the clear benefits from proactive and transparent engagement.”

It recommended practices including: “routine meetings to have candid discussions in a non-audit setting and maintain clear lines of communication between the appropriate IG officials and agency leadership”; “candid discussions about the resource needs of the IG”; designating a senior official to “work with IG staff during audits to smooth interactions between agency and IG staff, resolve conflicts at the lowest level, and raise issues promptly as needed.”

Regarding response to IG recommendations, the memo says that “Agencies can share with their IGs information regarding good faith efforts to respond to IG recommendations, discuss alternative actions and risk tolerance, and work to resolve areas of disagreement. Upon request, OMB will convene meetings between agency leadership and their IGs to help resolve significant areas of disagreement regarding IG recommendations.”

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