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The State of Reform
Download Unite America’s free report
Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.
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Open Government

House passes bill to speed an end to inspector general vacancies

Congress is so annoyed at how slowly presidents have nominated inspectors general that both parties want the reason down on paper.

The House passed a bill by voice vote Wednesday that would require a president to provide a written explanation whenever an inspector general's job has been open for at least 210 days without a nominee. It also would compel the president to estimate when a nomination is coming.

The current roster of vacancies is alarming to advocates for bettering democracy who focus on improved ethics and a commitment to open government. An IG's role is to be the independent watchdog posted inside a department or agency, investigating cases of waste, fraud and abuse and blowing the whistle with regular reports to Congress.

Of the 37 inspector general positions filled by a presidential nominee confirmed by the Senate, 11 are vacant — the job being done in some cases by acting or deputy IGs whose qualifications have not been vetted at confirmation hearings.

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Balance of Power

Government watchdogs over-emphasize waste but under-stress mission accomplishment, think tank says

Those involved with oversight of the executive branch should do more than simply investigate waste, fraud and abuse, one of the most prominent "good government" think tanks has concluded.

In a report released Tuesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center examined how executive branch agencies review their own operations and how Congress puts fresh eyes on the bureaucracy, analyzed the effectiveness of current practices, and offered recommendations to improve processes.

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Government Accountability Office

An arm of the legislative branch that conducts auditing, evaluations and investigations to inform the policymaking and oversight work of Congress. GAO stood for General Accounting Office from 1921 until the name was changed in 2004.

Read more about the Government Accountability Office.

Government Ethics

White House lacked top ethics official for 6 months

The top ethics office at the White House was kept vacant for a crucial six months of the Trump administration, and the president's lawyers sought to keep the situation under wraps, a watchdog group reported Tuesday.

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