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Inspectors-General: Junkyard Dogs or Man's Best Friend?

Mark H. Moore
Margaret Jane Gates
Copyright Date: 1986
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 132
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In 1978, determined to combat fraud, waste, and abuse in government programs, Congress overwhelmingly approved the creation of special Offices of Inspectors-General (OIGs) in many federal departments. Moore and Gates here provide the first evaluation of this important institutional innovation. Clearly and objectively, they examine the powerful but often imprecisely defined concepts-wastefulness, accountability, performance-that underlie the OIG mandate. Their study conveys a realistic sense of how these offices operate and how their impact is affected by the changing dynamics of politics and personality.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Perspectives Series

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-407-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Part I Inspectors-General and the Demand for Accountability
    (pp. 1-8)

    A dominant feature of the American political culture is distrust of government.¹ A corollary is an unquenchable thirst for accountability that cuts across the political spectrum. On the right, conservatives worry that without strict demands for “financial integrity,” nothing checks public officials from expanding government programs in pursuit of their own selfish interests, and nothing prevents unscrupulous clients from cheating loose government programs.² Similarly, businessmen accustomed to the discipline of the “bottom line” naturally want the same sort of accountability imposed on government.³ On the left, progressives animated by visions of “good government” hope to scourge corruption and waste with...

  4. Part II The Legislative Mandate
    (pp. 9-30)

    On October 12, 1978, following an overwhelmingly favorable vote in Congress, President Carter signed the Inspector-General Act of 1978.13This Act mandated the creation of Offices of Inspectors-General in a dozen federal departments: Agriculture, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Community Services, Environmental Protection, General Services, National Aeronautic and Space, Small Business, and Veterans.14The new Offices joined previously established statutory offices in the Departments of Health, Education, and Welfare, and Energy.15Later the Act was amended to include an additional three agencies: the Department of Commerce in 1979, the Agency for International Development in 1981, and the...

  5. Part III The Presidential Mandate and the Strategies of the Inspectors-General
    (pp. 31-54)

    The legislative mandate launched the OIGs, but White House interests in using the OIGs became influential in shaping the enterprise as the administrative tasks of building the organizations and structuring their relationships to other executive branch agencies (such as the Department of Justice, the Office of Management and Budget, the offices of administration and management in the departments and the various program offices) came to the fore. Both Presidents Carter and Reagan established special structures to provide leadership to the Inspectors-General. The Presidents differed, however, in their aims and emphases for the enterprise.

    Although President Carter initially opposed the legislation...

  6. Part IV Evaluating the Impact of the Offices of Inspectors-General
    (pp. 55-74)

    The Inspectors-General are charged broadly with improving the accountability, and therefore the performance, of government. To evaluate them, then, is to ask how well they have achieved these purposes. As noted above, our judgments must be considered preliminary. Since the institutions are still developing, and since we had only limited capacities to observe the effects, our conclusions must be held contingently until more experience accumulates and better evidence on effects comes along. In the parlance of OIGs, then, our exploration should be considered an “inspection” of a new program that provides the basis for a discussion with the program’s managers....

  7. Part V Summary and Conclusions
    (pp. 75-94)

    The central issue posed by this preliminary assessment of the Offices of Inspectors-General is whether they are increasing the accountability of the government and improving its performance or not. Behind this apparently straightforward question lie some problematic issues which make assessment difficult.

    Perhaps the most important issue is that some tension exists between the ideas of improved accountability and improved performance. Accountability has to do with the capacity of an agent to satisfy a principal that resources entrusted to him for specific purposes are being used well.189Performance has to do with the ability of the agent to produce things...

  8. Appendix A The Concept of Accountability
    (pp. 95-116)
  9. Appendix B The Impact of the Offices of Inspectors-General on Program Operations
    (pp. 117-120)