inspector general


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inspector general,

a government official tasked with independently overseeing an agency or department. Inspectors general are utilized by many countries, as well as regional and local governments and military organizations. They are typically charged with promoting efficiency and effectiveness and investigating many types of malfeasance, including waste, fraud, abuse, misuse of funds, or other forms of corruption. The inspectors general within the federal government of the United States operate under the Inspector General Act of 1978, which was passed following the Watergate AffairWatergate affair,
in U.S. history, series of scandals involving the administration of President Richard M. Nixon; more specifically, the burglarizing of the Democratic party national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
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. Each agency of the executive branch has an office of inspector general; there are more than 70 inspectors general in the U.S. government. About half of them are appointed by the president, subject to Senate approval, and half by an agency head. They are intended to be nonpartisan, and are often asked to continue their work despite a change in administration. Examples of inspector general activities include investigations of illegal detention activities, including torture, by the CIA; of the misuse of billions of dollars for reconstruction projects in Afghanistan; of trillions of dollars in accounting errors by the U.S. Army; of the misuse of funds by the Department of Veterans Affairs; and of unauthorized disclosures by the FBI. During the Trump administration, the president unusually chastised or removed several inspectors general who conducted investigations that were embarrassing to the administration, sometimes replacing them with individuals who were at the same time political appointees employed by the agency they were supposed to be overseeing.
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