News / USA

US Inspectors General Audit Government Business to Ensure Efficiency

US Inspectors General Audit Government Business to Ensure Efficiencyi
X
November 12, 2013 10:03 PM
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.
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.

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid