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IG/agency anxiety during Thanksgiving dinner

It’s like that frustrating relative who’ll be eating with your family at Thanksgiving. He's been there every past year and again will raise old tensions as he always does.

Yep, that’s how it is for agency officials and inspectors general (although who’s the frustrating relative depends on who you talk to).

In responding recently to questions about the IG/agency relationship, most IGs said they struggle at times to get all the information as requested without delays. But things are as they've always been.

“Offices of inspectors general operate in environments where a certain tension inherently exists between them and the agencies they oversee,” wrote Todd Zinser, IG at the Commerce Department.

But the relationship is not that bad — that is, beyond the unease of attempting a smile at the frustrating cousin or sister or uncle while passing the mashed potatoes. Many IGs noted no nasty relationships or hatred that reaches to the point of slipping something into someone else's piece of pumpkin pie.

IGs wrote that from time to time, agencies might filter access to information they had requested. There have been instances in which an agency liaison got involved to a point and then communications shut down between the IG’s staff members and agency staff.

Agencies can also delay access for one reason or another.

Peggy Gustafson, IG at the Small Business Administration, said it’s unclear whether the delays are intentionally hostile. Agencies might see the requests as of little importance, or it is possible that agencies have a simple lack of resources, she wrote.

Maybe it does take a while for the green beans to get passed to the big eaters at the other end of the table.

Remember this, though: If two family members truly dislike each other, Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t last long, especially if your in-laws, who live nearby, want you to come for dinner, too.

“Since the attempts by a former [General Services Administration] administrator several years ago to interfere with our budget, the GSA OIG has not experienced any further attempts related to budgetary issues that would substantially inhibit the OIG from performing its respective duties,” wrote Brian Miller, GSA’s IG.

That is the IG/agency nexus. Thanksgiving is coming soon. And it's still going to be tough to smile while passing the potatoes.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Oct 22, 2010 at 7:20 PM


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