Grassley: DoD IG makes progress, but not enough

Tuesday - 6/7/2011, 7:36am EDT

WFED's Jared Serbu with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

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By Jared Serbu
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The work of the Defense Department's inspector general is showing "positive trends," but the vast majority of its audit reporting activity continues to cost too much, lags behind the productivity of other agencies, and "misses the point" on many issues, a senator critical of the office's recent performance said Monday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a report last year which criticized the DoD IG for spending far too much of its time conducting narrow reviews of DoD policy issues rather than ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse, which he said is the core mission of federal inspectors general under the Inspector General Act of 1978. That report was based on his staff's analysis of the DoD IG's audit reports in fiscal year 2009.

Grassley's latest report, issued Monday and based on fiscal year 2010 audits, says the DoD IG has made progress.

"A year ago, really nothing was right," Grassley said in an interview with Federal News Radio. "This year, 15 of them are very good reports. We hope these 15 reports out of 113, and I know it's a very small percentage, are an indication that future reports are going to follow the pattern."

Grassley said the reports to which he and his staff granted favorable reviews were those which "followed the dollar." The balance of the agency's reporting activity continued to exhibit problems, he said, and in his office's analysis, earned a "D minus" on its report card of progress since previous year's report.

"They seem to be anemic, missing the point, spending a lot of money, and slow to produce (reports), relative to comparisons with other agencies," Grassley said.

Grassley's report claims DoD's IG staff is also relatively unproductive in terms of the number of reports it issues per auditor, compared against the inspectors general of other agencies his staff examined.

The report found DoD's IG produces 0.156 audits per auditor, per year, compared with much higher rates at the other departments included in the report. The Department of Health and Human Services turned in 0.8 audits for each of its auditors last year. The departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development were close to 0.6.

A spokesman for the DoD inspector general did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest Grassley report. The senator's office also said it had not received a formal response.

However, the inspector general's office, in a reply to the previous year's report, said it found many of Grassley's suggestions valuable and promised to do more to find and eliminate fraud.

"Therefore, I have directed the Deputy Inspector General for Auditing to make concrete and specific proposals on how your report can be used to increase the timeliness, focus and relevance of audit reports," Inspector General Gordon Heddell wrote in a September, 2010 letter. "The recommendations in your report will be an important tool in the transformation I have initiated since becoming inspector general."

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