The History of Offices of Inspector Generals:
In 1668 Louis XIV, King of France, invented the office of Inspector General to oversee his infantry and cavalry. He later created inspectors general for geographic regions. Inspectors general were relieved of all duties except the duty to inspect the army and other government facilities. They reported to the King directly, and to no one else. However, they had no directive authority; that is, they could not order anyone to do, or not do, anything. Those three attributes remained the basis of inspectors general throughout history: (1) no duty but to inspect; (2) no directive authority; and, (3) reporting only to the leader.
In December 1777, the Continental Congress approved an Inspector General for the Revolutionary Army. Frederick von Steuben inspected army units and reported to General Washington on the condition of the units, their training, and the competency of their officers. He also inspected contractors' invoices and deliveries, reporting when the Army was overbilled or received inferior goods. The U.S. Army has maintained an inspector general system ever since. In 1942 the Navy created the Naval Inspector General, and an inspector general has been part of the U.S. Air Force since its creation in 1948.
Scandals with government soybean subsidies led to the creation of the first civilian office of inspector general at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1973. Individual audit and investigative offices within the department merged, centralizing the department's oversight functions within the inspector general's office. This experiment was successful and offices of inspector general were created at all U.S. cabinet departments by the Inspector General Act of 1978. Their mission was to prevent and detect fraud, and to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the programs and operations of their departments.
Massachusetts was the first state to establish an Office of Inspector General in 1981, and various other states followed. Cities also adopted the concept.
Today there are approximately 200 public offices dedicated to government accountability and oversight.
The History of the District of Columbia Office of Inspector General:
In the District of Columbia, the Office of Internal Audits and Inspections was abolished in 1979 and replaced by the Office of the Inspection General of the District of Columbia per Mayor’s Order 79-7, dated January 2, 1979, and Mayor’s Order 79-224, dated September 24, 1979. However, its’ statutory duties were not established until the DC Procurement Practices Act of 1985.
On April 8, 1995, the United States Congress approved legislation, The D.C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-8, §303 (adopted April 17, 1995), to create a financial control board for the District of Columbia, a measure that effectively ended home rule for the city. That legislation provided not only for the creation of the board but also, for a new chief financial officer, and, to ensure integrity, an Inspector General. While the Mayor, at the time Marion Barry, had the right to appoint these two officials, the board's approval of the appointments as be required, and only the board would have the authority to dismiss them.
Subsequently, in 1998, the D.C. Council enacted the "Office of the Inspector General Law Enforcement Powers Amendment Act of 1998," DC Law No. 12-190. The Act further defined the duties of the Inspector General’s office by authorizing the OIG's criminal investigators to:
- carry firearms while engaged in the performance of official duties;
- make arrests without a warrant for felony violations committed in their presence; and
- execute search warrants issued upon probable cause.
In 2000, the Office of the Inspector General Powers and Duties Amendment Act of 1999 (DC Law 13-71) was passed and further amended the OIG's statute to:
- codify the OIG's mission statement and the OIG's policy of nondisclosure of the identity of complainants or individuals providing information to the OIG, unless the IG determines that disclosure is unavoidable or necessary to further investigation;
- codify the OIG's responsibility to make recommendations to the Mayor or agency heads for administrative sanctions against any employee or contractor who refuses to cooperate with an official OIG investigation;
- clarify that in the course of its official duties, the OIG has access to all papers, documents or property belonging to, or in use by, District government and independent agencies, except the City Council and the District of Columbia Courts;
- require that the OIG comply with generally accepted auditing, inspection, and investigation standards; and
- require that the OIG develop and participate in a peer review which will enable the OIG to complete, every third year, a thorough assessment of its auditing, inspection, and investigative standards, policies, procedures, and quality controls.