Earlier this year, we highlighted an important, troubling, occasion: the passage of the 3,000th day without a permanent Department of Interior Inspector General (“IG”).  Five months have passed and President Trump has still not appointed a watchdog for that agency.  At least eight other IG offices are similarly without permanent leadership.  Nevertheless, despite the need for greater effort on the part of the Administration, due credit should be given for the important progress that has been made in appointing competent individuals to some of the vacancies.

We applaud President Trump for nominating five individuals to IG posts since taking office.  In June, Robert Storch was nominated to oversee the National Security Agency.  In September, Mark Greenblatt and Christopher Sharpley were selected for the Export-Import Bank and Central Intelligence Agency, respectively.  And last week, President Trump announced his intent to nominate yet another two IGs—John Edward Dupuy for the Office of Personnel Management, and Gail Ennis for the Social Security Administration.  These candidates all appear to be eminently qualified.  Better, nearly all of them have previous experience working in IG offices.

It was inexcusable for President Obama to neglect to fill empty IG spots with qualified candidates, and President Trump has made important steps to rebuilding the federal government’s watchdog network.  We hope that the White House will make a special effort, however, to find IGs for Cabinet-level entities, such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  These agencies, in particular, have substantial budgets, and permanent IGs would provide an important internal check on waste, fraud, and abuse.

As we argued before, the absence of permanent IGs is concerning because it can reflect a lack of commitment to transparency and accountability in government.  Acting IGs cannot truly be independent.  As Senator Ron Johnson has commented, “[t]hey are not truly independent [because] they can be removed by the agency at any time; they are only temporary and do not drive office policy; and they are at greater risk of compromising their work to appease the agency or the president.”

President Trump should accelerate his efforts to identify and nominate strong, independent, and motivated watchdogs.  Taxpayers and the federal government only stand to benefit—as the savings illustrated on the new Oversight.gov suggest. We look forward to the White House’s future efforts on this critical issue.

Ryan P. Mulvey is Counsel at Cause of Action Institute.