The Inspector General (IG)'s mission is to expose fraud, waste and abuse as well as promoting efficiency in federal agencies. Significant statistical achievements of the IG community, in general, and the DHS IG in particular, support the proposal that IGs has proven to be a significant benefit to our government. Each year billions of dollars are returned to the Federal government or better spent based on recommendations from IGs reports. IGs investigations also contribute to the prosecution of thousands of wrongdoers and recovery of billions of dollars annually. Last year, in October 2008 the IG community celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 1978 Inspector General Act (P. L. 95-452.) During the last 30 years Congress has constantly praised the IGs for their contribution to more integrity and accountability in government. The executive also recognized the contributions of the IGs. For instance, in 2003, President George W. Bush commended the IGs to remain "agents of positive change" . In the same vein, recently, in March 2009, introducing his Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, President Obama acknowledged the effective work done by the IGs in regard to contracting fraud. According to them, the federal government is a lot better off today because of the Inspectors General's efforts. However, some acclaimed scholars have argued that IGs might have been contributing to more inefficiency rather than to effectiveness in government.
This dissertation aims at contributing to the scarce literature on IGs by evaluating selected components of federal IGs effectiveness (as identified and assessed by scholars in the field) in a specific case—DHS IG to determine whether the scholarship in this area is empirically supported. This research embraces a distinctive methodology, the embedded case study design. A case study method is well suited to IGs research because this kind of methodology is preferred in examining contemporary events, and when behavior cannot be manipulated (Yin 2009:11). Moreover the case study method is more appropriate because this research strategy relies on several sources of evidence (e.g., IGs'Semiannual Reports to Congress, Government Accountability Office (GAO)'s reports, laws and regulations, sentenced criminal cases, and interviews, among others). Furthermore, the case study method is more convenient for this research because this dissertation uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence. In addition, the single-case design is significantly justifiable where the case represents "a critical test of existing theory" (Yin 2009:47-49). The DHS IG represents a critical test of existing theory on IGs because it fails to support a set of propositions within the IG theory while also supporting and extending the overall theory on IGs.
DHS IG has been selected for three main reasons: First, in contrast to major theories that argue that IGs are ineffective because they focus on minor problems and also because their recommendations do not have a positive influence on overall agency performance, DHS IG has been showing significantly steady-positive results on the impact of their recommendations (on average over 93% of their recommendations have been accepted by the host agency during FYs 2003-2008) while also continuously achieving an increasing amount of recoveries and savings in the same period of time. Second, DHS IG also represents a typical case challenging the existing theory because, in contrast to theories on IGs that argue that IGs are ineffective because they focus on small problems overlooking the big systemic problems of hosting agency, DHS OIG has been positively addressing the systemic problem of contracting in DHS. This is crucial, especially considering that DHS is one of the largest agencies in contract spending (with $15.7 billion for FY 2006).Third, DHS IG represents a critical case because it has been constantly addressing issues that affect their organizational independence such as size and staff. DHS Inspector General has reported that the lack of staffing is preventing them from effectively tackling systemic DHS problems in the contracting system as well as severely limiting their ability to monitor contractor performance and conduct effective contract oversight. Despite the systemic problems in its hosting agency, DHS OIG has been achieving increasingly positive outcomes.
Cumulatively over FYs 2003 through 2008, DHS OIG's recommendations for better use of funds have totaled approximately $180,173,919 million, and costs questioned totaled approximately $439,189,276 million. Interestingly enough, recommendations suggested by DHS OIG have been positively received by DHS managers. They have concurred with higher percentages of OIG's recommendations. The percentage of recommendations accepted average approximately 93% per fiscal year. This is indeed an excellent accomplishment of DHS OIG and shows the positive impact of the OIG in DHS management improvement. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)