U. S. Department of education office of inspector general: promoting integrity in federal education programs

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December, 2005


  1. The Creation and Evolution of the Office of Inspector General

The Inspector General Concept 2

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General 2

The Dedication of Office of Inspector General Staff 3

Growing Responsibilities 4

Delivering Results 5

Emerging Issues, Evolving Techniques 6

Expanding Expertise 7

Leaders Within the Inspector General Community 8

Leaders at All Levels 10

Providing Support in Times of Crises 11

  1. The Impact of Our Work

Student Financial Assistance 12

An Unprecedented Commitment 13

Overhauling the Higher Education Act in 1992 13

The Prevention and Detection of Fraud and Abuse 14

The Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 1998 15

Identifying and Investigating Significant Fraud and Abuse 15

State and Local Assistance 18

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act 18

Special Education 18

Vocational Education 19

Data Reliability 19

The Cooperative Audit Resolution and Oversight Initiative 19

Making Recommendations to the Department and Congress 20

Identifying and Investigating Corrupt Officials 21

Department Operations 22

Financial Statement Audit 22

Information Technology Security 23

Internal Control 24

Control Over Purchase Cards 24

Control Over Travel Cards 25

Human Capital Planning 25

Leading the Way in Fighting Cybercrime 25

Identifying and Investigating Internal Abuse 26

  1. Looking Ahead

Improved Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars 28

Student Financial Assistance Programs 29

Information Technology 29

Procurement 29

Inspector General Community 30

The Best Is Yet to Come 30

1. The Creation and Evolution of the Office of Inspector General
The Inspector General Concept
What exactly is an “inspector general?” Some say it is a military officer responsible for investigations. Others say it is a term that goes back to 17th-century France, when Louis XIV needed someone to inspect his troops and to report back to him on their condition. Here in the United States, the term “inspector general” has been associated with maintaining and improving the operational efficiency of our armed forces since colonial times.
In the 1970s, government scandals, the Vietnam War, oil shortages and stories of corruption covered by newspapers and television and radio stations took a toll on the American public’s faith in its government. The U.S. Congress knew it had to take action to restore the public’s trust. It had to increase oversight of federal programs and operations. It had to create a mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of government programs. And it had to provide an independent voice for economy, efficiency and effectiveness within the federal government that would earn and maintain the trust of the American people.
A bold move was in order. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the landmark legislation known as the Inspector General Act (IG Act). The IG Act created independent inspectors general, who would: protect the integrity of government; improve program efficiency and effectiveness; prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse in federal agencies; and keep agency heads, Congress, and the American people fully and currently informed of the findings of the IGs’ work.
Almost 30 years later, that bold concept is a proven success. The IGs continue to deliver significant benefits to our nation. Thanks to IG audits and inspections, billions of dollars have been returned to the federal government or have been better spent based on recommendations identified through those audits and inspections. IG investigations have also contributed to the prosecution of thousands of wrongdoers. In addition, the IG concept of good governance and accountability encourages foreign governments to seek our advice, with the goal of replicating the basic IG principles in their own governments.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General
When the IG Act was passed in 1978, IG offices were established in 12 agencies. The agency responsible for coordinating federal education programs at that time was the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). Just one year later, illustrating that access to a quality education is one of our nation’s fundamental rights and is essential for a strong and secure future, President Carter signed into law the Department of Education Act. The law created an independent U.S. Department of Education (Department), separating it from HEW. On May 4, 1980, the U.S. Department of Education officially opened its doors for business.
The Department of Education Act also established the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) within the Department. Our mission is to promote the efficiency, effectiveness and integrity of the Department's programs and operations by conducting independent and objective audits, investigations, inspections and other activities. Our vision is to be a continual learning and improving organization, one that appreciates, challenges, respects, and honors its employees; serves as a change agent to encourage fiscal integrity and continuing improvement in program delivery and program effectiveness; and seeks to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction possible within our independent and objective role.
2005 marks our 25th year of service to the Department, Congress and the American people. For a quarter-century, we have successfully promoted the efficiency, effectiveness and integrity of the Department’s programs and operations. We have actively identified problems so that federal education funds are used effectively, and we have worked with the Department to prevent fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. We have consistently conducted independent and objective audits, investigations and inspections, and based on our findings, we have made recommendations to the Department to address the problems we find, and investigate fraud leading to the prosecution of those who try to gain federal education funds illegally.
As anniversaries provide unique opportunities to reflect on the past and look to the future, this report commemorates our first 25 years of operation by highlighting our most significant contributions to federal education programs and services, and illustrates how we plan to pursue our vital mission in the years ahead.

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