President Donald Trump has proposed cutting the budgets of Inspector General offices at five federal agencies, Axios reported Wednesday, which would hinder the ability of the nonpartisan government watchdogs to rein in corruption within the Trump administration.
> It was the Health and Human Services I.G. whose probe determined that ex-Secretary Tom Price took a whopping 20 trips that violated federal requirements, and urged the department to go after him to recoup at least $341,000 of the taxpayer money he blew on private jets so he wouldn’t be inconvenienced with delays. Its counterpart at the Environmental Protection Agency opened multiple investigations into the winner of the Most Blatantly Corrupt Trump Official 2018 award, despite being reportedly blackballed by Pruitt’s aides. A report by the Department of Veterans Affairs called out former Secretary David Shulkin for making a staffer “effectively act . . . as a personal travel concierge” to him and his wife, as well as that time Shulkin took the Mrs. to see Wimbledon on the taxpayer dime.
Nevertheless, Trump proposes slashing funding for IG offices, hampering their abilities to do their jobs:
> President Trump has proposed slashing funds for Inspector General offices—nonpartisan government watchdogs—at five different agencies, according to a new report released on Wednesday by Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. . . . The big picture: the proposed budget would cut funding next year for I.G.s at the Environmental Protection Agency, Homeland Security, State Department, the Treasury, Department of Agriculture, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the report.
> The I.G. offices at the General Services Administration, Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department were not given the budget increases requested.
McCaskill’s report notes the potential pitfalls of cutting funding for IG offices, even as the agencies they oversee receive increased funding:
> “Cutting the budgets of independent watchdogs is deeply troubling and hinders the effort to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately. Inspectors General contribute to the important job of curbing waste, fraud, and abuse at federal agencies, so it’s unconscionable that we would cut their budgets and decrease accountability, especially as we’re potentially increasing the budgets of some of the very same agencies they’re supposed to oversee.”