Watchdogs Complain Of Lack Of Cooperation From Federal Agencies


The independent watchdogs for a dozen federal agencies say that government officials have hindered investigations on topics ranging from missing federal firearms to computer security breaches. The interference undermines the accountability Congress intended when it enacted the Inspectors General Act more than three decades ago, the watchdogs say. The Center for Public Integrity obtained copies of letters the inspectors general wrote to the U.S. Senate describing allegations of foot-dragging and slow production of documents in the course of investigations. The problems occurred in some of the largest Cabinet agencies, including the State Department, Treasury, Education Department, Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Eric Thorson, who runs the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, wrote that his staff was “being denied unrestricted and unfettered access to information from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for use in investigations of possible fraud .(). by failed financial institutions.” Thorson said he unsuccessfully asked Comptroller John Dugan, who recently resigned as chief of the agency, to release bank examination information. Another watchdog said the federal agents the EPA entrusts with enforcing the law were instead hindering an investigation into whether weapons under the control of the agents were stolen, lost or missing. Senior managers for the EPA's criminal investigators “either refused to cooperate or were marginally responsive,” Roderick wrote.

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