Each government agency has an Office of Inspector General. This part of each government agency supposedly holds persons accountable who work for the agency within which the specific OIG (Office of Inspector General) resides. A more definitive explanation, taken from a federal website is this: The Office of Inspector General investigates complaints or allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct by employees or contractors that involve or give rise to fraud, waste or abuse within the programs or operations of the [agency from which it is located].
This means each agency investigates itself, almost like an “agency internal affairs” setup. The OIG of each agency submit reports of their work, referred to as “audits” and these audits are published for the public to read and found on the internet at the index of each agency website. The audits are the result of an investigation. There is a difference between an investigation and an audit; each function can be used to generate inquiries by the other, but from what I have seen, the investigation is fed to the audit group, and the audit group publishes the findings.
My experience is with OIG Veteran Affairs and OIG Treasury. Both of these OIG office have been found to have failed to report incriminating information or to hold either agency of which they audit to be accountable. An introductory letter from the agency auditor identifying and summarizing the report is sent to the Commissioner or other high ranking official of the agency. A reply from the recipient of the report is included the end of the report. The recipient thanks the OIG office for submitting the audit, makes excuses for shortcomings, will promise to do better, and nothing happens.
Hopefully the lack of full investigations, accountability, and enforcement will diminish. Since my involvement with OIG audits/investigations of the Bureau of Fiscal Services (a collection and dispensing division of US Treasury) I have found the General Counsel and selected Treasury Agents to be receptive to the failings of their office in two previous audits of the Bureau of Fiscal Services.
As we await a new report, we hope to see a more objective manner in which to run government agencies.