Government Agency

Council Of The Inspectors General On Integrity And Efficiency

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) is an independent entity within the executive branch of the United States government. It is comprised of the Inspectors General (IG) of federal agencies and designated federal entities. It was established by the IG Reform Act of 2008 to address integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend federal government agencies and to increase the professionalism and effectiveness of personnel within the Offices of the Inspectors General (OIG). [1]

In 2019, CIGIE accused the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) of undermining whistleblower protections after a complaint was filed based on second-hand information of a diplomatic phone call between President Donald Trump and the President of Ukraine. [2] The OLC contended the complaint, which would play a key role in instigating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, did not rise to the level of an “urgent concern” and was handled properly. [3]

Background

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) is an independent entity within the executive branch of the United States government. It is comprised of the Inspectors General (IG) of federal agencies and designated federal entities. It was established by the IG Reform Act of 2008 to address integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend federal government agencies and to increase the professionalism and effectiveness of personnel within the Offices of the Inspectors General (OIG). [4]

History

The structure and makeup of the CIGIE has evolved as an umbrella agency for IGs in the United States government. Originally, the IG ACT of 1978 created and established standards for IG offices within federal departments. [5] By statute, the president is responsible for nominating individuals to fill the IG positions established by the act, with the U.S. Senate deciding upon confirmation of those nominees.

In 1981, an Executive Order by President Ronald Reagan created the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), a task force of IGs to coordinate the efforts to eliminate waste and fraud in federal government programs. [6]

Congress amended the original legislation in 1988 to establish additional IG positions at designated federal entities (such as the United States Postal Service) that are filled through appointment by agency heads rather than the president. [7] An executive order issued by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 created the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency (ECIE) for these appointed Inspectors General. [8] Both the PCIE and ECIE were given similar responsibilities to promote government integrity.

The IG Reform Act of 2008 dissolved the PCIE and ECIE and consolidated their overlapping roles by establishing the CIGIE. The legislation was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a Democratic-led Congress and signed by Republican President George W. Bush. [9]

Mission & Structure

CIGIE was established to address issues of integrity throughout the federal government; it coordinates government response to fraud, waste, and abuse in federal programs by creating frameworks and policies that will enhance the abilities of staff within the offices of Inspectors General. [10]

All statutorily-established and agency-appointed IGs are members of CIGIE, along with the Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a senior level official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) designated by the Director of the FBI, the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, the Special Counsel of the Office of Special Counsel, the Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and the Deputy Director for Management of the OMB. [11] As a body, CIGIE is charged with making recommendations for nominees and appointees to fill existing IG vacancies. [12]

Members elect a chairperson for a 2-year term and the Deputy Director of Management of the OMB serves as the Executive Chairperson. [13] A full-time staff led by the executive director conducts support operations.

CIGIE maintains standing committees on Audit, Budget, Information Technology, Inspection and Evaluation, Investigations, Legislation, and Professional Development. It is also required to have an Integrity Committee to “receive, review, and refer for investigation allegations of wrongdoing that are made against IGs and staff members of the various OIGs.”. [14]

Pursuant to the goal of promoting government integrity, CIGIE maintains the Oversight.gov website where IG reports are consolidated and made accessible to the public. The website also provides resources for whistleblowers to report waste, fraud, abuse, or retaliation. [15]

Leadership

Chair Michael Horowitz is the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General. [16] As DOJ IG, Horowitz launched inquiries into the U.S. Justice Department and FBI’s handling of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email practices and surveillance of members of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. [17] [18]

In 2020, Executive Chair and Deputy Director of Management at the OMB Margaret Weichert announced she would be leaving her post for the private sector. [19]

Vice-chair Allison Lerner is the National Science Foundation Inspector General. [20]

Financials

CIGIE has two primary sources of revenue. Appropriations funding provides $2 million per year in direct funding, and the Council may request funding for activities from all government agencies and entities that have a member. [21] [22] In a 2019 financial report, the agency reported a balance of $26,605,470 in budgetary resources. [23]

Trump IG Controversy

CIGIE became a significant part of the whistleblower controversy in the months leading up to President Donald Trump’s 2020 impeachment.

In August 2019, an intelligence community whistleblower filed a complaint alleging improprieties based on secondhand information that arose during a phone call between President Trump and newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. [24] A memorandum released in September by the DOJ OLC prevented the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) from sending the complaint to Congress, asserting the matter did not rise to the status of “urgent concern.” [25] In response, CIGIE urged the OLC to withdraw the ruling claiming a “chilling effect” on the oversight abilities of the IG community. [26]

While the whistleblower complaint was released to Congress shortly thereafter, President Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the ICIG at the heart of the controversy, in early 2020. In his capacity as CIGIE chairman, Michael Horowitz defended Atkinson’s handling of the complaint. [27] However, President Trump held the dismissal was due to a loss of confidence in Atkinson and accused the IC OIG of taking a “fake report” to Congress. [28]

In April 2020, after President Trump removed acting Defense Department IG Glenn Fine from the special Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, Congressional Democrats urged CIGIE to assist in the development of legislation that would limit the ability of the White House to dismiss IGs. [29]

References

  1. Congress.gov, “H.R.928 – Inspector General Reform Act of 2008.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/house-bill/928 ^
  2. CIGIE, “CIGIE Letter to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in Response to OLC Opinion on a Whistleblower Disclosure,” October 22, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/CIGIE_Letter_to_OLC_Whistleblower_Disclosure.pdf ^
  3. CIGIE, “Memorandum for Jason Klitenic General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” September 3, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/OLC_Memorandum_on_Urgent_Concern.pdf ^
  4. Congress.gov, “H.R.928 – Inspector General Reform Act of 2008.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/house-bill/928 ^
  5. Congress.gov, “H.R.8588.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/95th-congress/house-bill/8588 ^
  6. CIGIE, “Government-Wide Anti-Fraud and Waste Efforts,” March 26, 1981. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/Executive_Order_12301.pdf ^
  7. Congress.gov, “S.908 – Inspector General Act Amendments of 1988.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/senate-bill/908 ^
  8. CIGIE, “Integrity and Efficiency in Federal Programs,” May 11, 1992. Accessed May 31, 2019. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/exorder.pdf ^
  9. Congress.gov, “H.R.928 – Inspector General Reform Act of 2008.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/house-bill/928 ^
  10. CIGIE, Governing Documents, Mission. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/mission-0 ^
  11. CIGIE, Governing Documents, Mission. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/mission-0 ^
  12. CIGIE, Governing Documents, Functions and Duties of the Council. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/charter ^
  13. CIGIE, Governing Documents, Officers and Executive Council. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/charter ^
  14. CIGIE, Governing Documents, Committees. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/charter ^
  15. Oversight.gov, About Oversight.gov. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://oversight.gov/about ^
  16. CIGIE, Leadership and Staff. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/leadership-and-staff ^
  17. Johnson, Kevin, “Senate judiciary panel grills Justice inspector general, FBI director on Clinton email probe,” USA Today, June 18, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/18/clinton-emails-justice-ig-fbi-director-answer-questions-after-review/710039002/ ^
  18. Phillips, Kristine and Johnson, Kevin, “Review of FBI’s surveillance of Trump campaign aide doesn’t ‘vindicate anybody,’ inspector general says,” USA Today, December 11, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/12/11/ig-report-horowitz-testify-his-fisa-findings-russia-probe/4387545002/ ^
  19. Miller, Jason, and Ogrysko, Nicole, “OMB’s Weichert leaving for the private sector,” Federal News Network, February 14, 2020. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://federalnewsnetwork.com/people/2020/02/ombs-weichert-leaving-for-the-private-sector/ ^
  20. CIGIE, Leadership and Staff. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/leadership-and-staff ^
  21. CIGIE, “Fiscal Year 2019, Agency Financial Report.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/2019%20CIGIE%20Agency%20Financial%20Report.pdf ^
  22. CIGIE, Governing Documents, Funding. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/content/charter ^
  23. CIGIE, “Fiscal Year 2019, Agency Financial Report.” Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/2019%20CIGIE%20Agency%20Financial%20Report.pdf ^
  24. Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, August 12, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/20190812_-_whistleblower_complaint_unclass.pdf ^
  25. CIGIE, “Memorandum for Jason Klitenic General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” September 3, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/OLC_Memorandum_on_Urgent_Concern.pdf ^
  26. CIGIE, “CIGIE Letter to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in Response to OLC Opinion on a Whistleblower Disclosure,” October 22, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/CIGIE_Letter_to_OLC_Whistleblower_Disclosure.pdf ^
  27. CIGIE, “Statement from CIGIE Chair Michael Horowitz on the removal of Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community,” April 4, 2020. Accessed May 31, 2019. https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/Statement%20–%20CIGIE%20Chair%20Horowitz.pdf ^
  28. Herb, Jeremy, Cohen, Zachary, and Hoffman, Jason, “Trump defends firing intelligence community watchdog,” CNN, April 4, 2020. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/04/politics/trump-michael-atkinson-inspector-general-fired/index.html ^
  29. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, “Letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency,” April 10, 2020. Accessed May 31, 2020. https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/documents/2020-04-10.CBM%20et%20al.%20to%20CIGIE%20re%20IG%20Independence.pdf ^
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