PBGC - Office of Inspector General

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Overview

Under 1988 amendments to the Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act), the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was established at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). From its establishment until June 2002, Wayne Robert Poll served as the Inspector General at PBGC. He was followed by Robert L. Emmons who served as Inspector General from January 2003 to October 2007. Rebecca Anne Batts began her tenure as Inspector General in April 2008 until her retirement in October 2013. From October 2013 until May 2015, Deborah Stover-Springer served as the acting Inspector General. In May 2015, Robert A. Westbrooks was named as Inspector General.

The Congress originally created the OIGs in response to a series of government scandals that had occurred over the preceding decade. Congress believed that by establishing independent Inspector Generals (IG) within each major Federal agency, taxpayers' funds could be more prudently used and accurately accounted for; that government would be better equipped to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; and that the public's confidence in their government would be enhanced. In 1988, Congress amended the Act to add IGs at certain designated federal entities, such as PBGC.

A major benefit of the IG Act was perhaps most succinctly stated in testimony provided to Congress by the Department of Justice and cited in the IG Act's legislative history:

"The combining of audit and investigation functions under an Inspector General in the respective departments and agencies virtually ensures that the performance of the agencies will improve."

Over the intervening years, Congress has established Offices of Inspector General in 72 Federal entities.

Responsibilities

The OIG conducts and supervises independent and objective audits relating to PBGC programs and operations and recommends policies and procedures that promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in program administration. The OIG investigates complaints from PBGC employees and the public concerning suspected fraud or other violations of laws, mismanagement, gross waste of funds or resources, and abuse of authority. PBGC employees and contractors are required to report serious abuse or criminal behavior to the OIG. The IG Act provides protection for complainants against reprisals for making complaints or providing information to the OIG. The OIG is required to expeditiously report to the Attorney General whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that Federal criminal laws have been violated. The OIG reviews existing or proposed legislation and regulations to make recommendations to PBGC and the Congress concerning the impact on the economy and the efficiency of program administration or on the prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and abuse.

Under the IG Act, the Inspector General has rights to direct and prompt access to the agency head. The agency head, under the Act, is the Secretary of Labor, as Chairman of PBGC's Board of Directors. The OIG keeps the agency head and the Congress fully informed about problems and deficiencies in programs administered by PBGC and the need for timely corrective action. This is accomplished through meetings and briefings with agency officials, members of the Congress, and their staff; congressional testimony; and the IG's Semiannual Report to the Congress.

Inspector General Independence

The IG is appointed by the Secretary of Labor as Chairman of PBGC's Board of Directors (agency head), without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability. The IG is nonpolitical and, therefore, subject to the Hatch Act. If the IG is removed or transferred to another position, the Secretary of Labor must communicate in writing the reasons for such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress. The IG is under the general supervision of the Secretary of Labor. General supervision does not include authority for those outside of the OIG to supervise or interfere in any audit, investigation or oversight matter. The IG has the authority to select and appoint employees, directly contract for program services, and maintain Legal Counsel which reports directly to the IG. In the appointment memorandum, the Secretary of Labor asked that the IG work closely with PBGC's Director who has day-to-day responsibilities for PBGC.

The IG has authority for direct and prompt access to the Secretary for any purpose relating to the performance of the OIG's mission and responsibilities. The IG has independent authority to initiate and conduct audits and investigations and to issue administrative subpoenas to individuals or entities outside the Federal Government, and to obtain full access to documents and records. In addition, the OIG has access to all records, reports, papers, documents, and other materials available to PBGC, as well as the authority to request information or assistance from any Federal, State, or local Government agency and to report any refusals to the agency head without delay. The IG is ensured independence by the IG Act's explicit statement that the head of the agency cannot prevent or prohibit the IG from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation, or issuing any subpoena.

How the OIG Reports its Work Products

As a general rule, OIG staff keep PBGC management and/or the auditee advised of audit findings as they are developed. Once the audit is complete, the OIG issues a draft report to the PBGC Deputy Director who has oversight for the audited program and an exit conference is scheduled. An exit conference is held to communicate audit results to appropriate program or agency management and to discuss proposed findings and recommendations. Management's comments are important to ensure that the audit results are fairly presented, audit recommendations are reasonable and feasible, and any errors or misrepresentations are corrected. PBGC management is to provide written comments on the facts, conclusions, and each recommendation presented in the report within 15 business days. The OIG issues the final audit report, which officially presents audit findings and recommendations to appropriate officials, with a copy of management's written comments attached. These reports are generally available to the public.

Audit recommendations are considered resolved when managers and the auditors agree on the required corrective actions. After the agreed-upon corrective actions have been completed, the recommendations are considered closed. When disagreements about audit recommendations arise, the OIG works with PBGC management to resolve corrective action issues.

Investigation reports detailing results and evidence obtained during investigations involving PBGC programs, operations or personnel are provided to the United States Attorney's Office, or other appropriate prosecutive office, for consideration of criminal and/or civil actions. Investigative findings of program fraud and employee or contractor misconduct may be reported to the Deputy Director who is responsible for that program for their consideration of corrective administrative action. Investigation reports are not publicly available for privacy reasons.

In addition to keeping PBGC informed through the usual reporting processes -- such as exit conferences, draft and final audit and evaluation reports, letter reports, or investigative reports and memoranda -- the OIG also keeps the Secretary and Congress informed through various methods. They include meetings and briefings; Congressional testimony; the IG's Semiannual Report to the Congress (which the Secretary transmits to the Vice President and the Speaker of the House within 30 days of its receipt); and a special 7-day report for notifying the Secretary and the Congress of any particularly serious or flagrant problems requiring immediate attention.

Legislative Review

The IG Act requires that the OIG review and comment, as appropriate, on all proposed and existing legislation and regulations in order to identify weaknesses and recommend necessary corrective actions. Accordingly, as part of its review of PBGC programs and operations, the OIG makes legislative or regulatory recommendations to PBGC and the Congress. OIG may make these recommendations as part of the Department's ongoing legislative review and clearance process; incorporated within audit and evaluation reports or investigative memoranda provided to PBGC program officials; included in our Semiannual Report to the Congress; or presented as part of our testimony during Congressional oversight hearings.

Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation
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