Top lawmaker urges Obama to fill gov’t watchdog jobs

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The top Republican on the House’s main investigative committee today pressed President Barack Obama to fill the dozen or so vacant watchdog jobs across government.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, cited a recent Center for Public Integrity story that listed vacant top jobs at 10 or so federal agencies’ inspectors general, as well as at the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Special Counsel.

Those watchdogs are entrusted with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse and protecting federal whistleblowers.

“During a time of record federal spending and increased agency activities, the American people have a right to know that a robust group of independent watchdogs is in place guard taxpayer dollars against waste, fraud and mismanagement,” Issa wrote.

Some of the longest-vacant Office of Inspector General (OIG) jobs are at agencies involving national security, like the State Department and CIA, Issa said. “There is an urgent need for permanent independent leadership at every OIG with oversight of an agency that has a national security component,” he wrote.

Issa’s letter to the president follows a similar admonishment from the Democratic chairman of the committee, Rep. Ed Towns of New York, who told the Center in May that he was troubled by the administration allowing several long vacancies in jobs key to protecting taxpayers’ interests.

The White House has said it takes the watchdog jobs seriously and is vetting candidates for several of the vacancies.