News / USA

US Inspectors General Audit Government Business to Ensure Efficiency

US Inspectors General Audit Government Business to Ensure Efficiencyi
X
November 12, 2013
The U.S. government has a system in place that oversees department and agency actions, and also watches over private sector companies that are contracted to the government. The goal is to fight corruption, and make government programs more efficient and effective. VOA’s Jeffrey Young looks at the role played by Inspectors General.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jeffrey Young
— The U.S. government has a system in place that oversees department and agency actions, and also watches over private sector companies that are contracted to the government. The goal is to fight corruption, and make government programs more efficient and effective.  The role played by Inspectors General is pivotal.

This man watches over every penny of the more than $940 billion budgeted to the U.S. government’s massive Department of Health and Human Services, also known as HHS. His office is within HHS, but ultimately, he works for Congress - and for the American people.

He’s Daniel Levinson, the HHS Inspector General.  He and his IG counterparts in every U.S. government department and agency search for corruption, and also scrutinize how programs for the public, as well as internal operations, are being run.

“We audit the money that comes through the department. We investigate any possible wrongdoing as a result of looking at those figures, to see whether there might be criminal activity involved, and if there is, to prosecute those who would be engaged in that activity. And thirdly, we look to see whether we can improve the programs as they operate, and inform the wider health care provider community about how to provide those services better,” said Levinson

With billions of U.S. tax dollars spent on health care and programs, the potential for fraud and corruption is huge. Levinson reports that over the past five years, his audits and investigations have resulted in nearly 3,800 criminal convictions, nearly 2,000 civil settlements, and recovering more than $23 billion.

Inspectors General are appointed by the president, and report to Congress about their department’s or agency’s activities. They also inform the department secretaries or agency heads in the areas in which they work, though they are not subordinate to them.

Maintaining that autonomy is vital according to the government watchdog group Project On Government Oversight's Michael Smallberg. "Ideally, we think there should be an adversarial relationship between the inspector general and the agency head. Not antagonistic, not openly confrontational, but there should be a healthy distance between the two.”

A vivid example of that separation came when Congress, in response to the 2008 financial crisis, created the Troubled Asset Relief Program - or TARP. The IG overseeing TARP, Neil Barofsky, publicly criticized Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, saying the Secretary’s implementation of the program favored Wall Street instead of the public.

“The only way that TARP got passed, the only way it got the votes necessary in Congress to become law, was promises by the Treasury Department and the President that this would be a program that would not just help the big banks, but also help those struggling homeowners. When President Barack Obama announced what he was going to do, he said up to four million people would stay in their homes because of this program. And, that was just an absolute failure.”

While the TARP program eventually provided some homeowner assistance, Barofsky says it has never fulfilled its promises to Congress. His battles with Geithner prompted him to resign in March 2011, but the position itself continues - with a new inspector general.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid