October 29,2003

Grassley, Baucus Emphasize Need to Fill Key Inspector General Post

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, and Sen. Max Baucus, ranking member, today urged the White House to nominate a candidate for inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department. The senators also encouraged the White House to prepare for the departure of the Social Security Administration inspector general early next year.

The text of the senators’ letter to the White House follows.

October 29, 2003

Via mail and telefax (202) 456-1907

Mr. Andrew H. Card Jr.
Chief of Staff
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Card:

The purpose of this letter is to express our concern that an Inspector General (IG) has not yet been nominated for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). With the Congress poised to recess within the next few weeks, we would hope that a nomination could be offered in the very near future so that the Senate could act to confirm a nominee immediately or, if necessary, veryshortly upon its return in January. The position of HHS IG is critical to maintaining integrity andaccountability at HHS.

The former HHS IG announced her resignation almost eight months ago. That resignationcame near the close of an investigation regarding, among other things, the operation andmanagement of the OIG. Since the former IG stepped down, Dara Corrigan has acted in the capacityof Principal Deputy IG.

The concept of the IG was codified in 1978. Inspectors General are mandated to deter,investigate and prosecute fraud, waste and abuse in government programs. In addition, IGs arecharged with insuring the efficient, effective and economical operation of the agency. They fulfillthese mandates through the use of audits, evaluations and investigations. They operate asnonpartisan, independent offices and now exist in nearly all government departments.

We cannot express adequately the importance of insuring that an IG is nominated andconfirmed promptly for the Department of Health and Human Services. This Department expendshundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars every year, and it is targeted by both individual and corporatefraudsters who bilk the system to the detriment of each and every American. Without a permanentIG, imbued with the authority and stature that derives from Senate confirmation, the office will beunable to set a new and permanent course for its future activities and operations.

Finally, we were recently advised that the IG at the Social Security Administration (SSA)intends to retire on or about March 5, 2004. We encourage the Administration to embark on itssearch for a new SSA IG quickly in the hope of ensuring continuity of operations in that crucialagency, as well.

Thank you in advance for your attention to these very important matters.


Charles E. Grassley 

Max Baucus
Ranking Member