“Offices of inspectors general (OIGs) are among the most underappreciated and overly criticized institutions in the U.S. government.”
This is from a new Brookings Institution report, Sometimes cutting budgets raise deficits: The curious case of inspectors’ general return on investment. In it, Brookings reports that our office has the highest return-on-investment of any Federal OIG: we return, through our audits and investigations, $43.60 to taxpayers for every $1 that Congress invests in us through our annual budget (see the chart from the report below).
The report compared and analyzed the returns from many OIGs throughout the Federal Government, and concluded that when Congress cuts OIGs’ budgets, this actually costs the government money and contributes to the Federal deficit.
That’s because Federal OIGs conduct audits, investigations, and take other administrative and enforcement actions that help recover money owed to the government, and they identify where money is being wasted or improperly spent. Our efforts ensure that Federal agencies spend their funds more efficiently, and we help prevent future misappropriation of those funds.
In 2014, our budget was just over $102 million dollars. That is clearly a large sum, but it’s relatively small compared with SSA overall, with its appropriation of $11.8 billion. Even that is a modest amount with which to run a national program—with 1,300 offices across the country—that pays out over $800 billion dollars every year.
Because we audit SSA’s programs and operations, with its large amounts in benefits paid and population served, it’s not a huge surprise that our return on investment is higher than other OIGs. Still, we also think our top-place finish is due to our successfully identifying the areas most in need of recommendations for improvement.
We aren’t out to “get” Social Security; we're out to help it become even better at what it already does well: paying needed and earned benefits to a deserving population.
If you want to read all the details, you can find the full report here: Sometimes cutting budgets raise deficits: The curious case of inspectors’ general return on investment.