Inspectors General:

Improvements to IG Oversight Needed for Architect of the Capitol Operations

GAO-17-25: Published: Nov 4, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 4, 2016.

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Beryl H. Davis
(202) 512-2623
davisbh@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

During fiscal years 2012 through 2015—the 4-year period GAO reviewed—the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) had responsibilities for independent audits and investigations of AOC's

10 jurisdictions with specific program responsibilities for the maintenance, operations, and preservation of the buildings and grounds across Capitol Hill;

Capitol Construction and Operations with central support offices; and

construction and restoration projects, including its four largest ongoing “mega projects,” with an estimated combined cost of over $1 billion.

The AOC OIG's audit planning during this period did not include either risk assessments or assigned priorities for conducting audits consistent with standards of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). In addition, the OIG did not adopt these CIGIE standards in its policies and procedures. Instead, the current IG emphasized “continuous review” of mega projects, which he defined as an effort to alert AOC and the Congress of contract management issues as they occurred. This approach and the prior IG's efforts did not result in any audit reports of AOC's mega projects during fiscal years 2012 through 2015. The OIG also reported a decline in total audit reports and monetary accomplishments of potential dollar savings during fiscal years 2014 and 2015 (see table). Further, the OIG provided only one audit report of an AOC jurisdiction program during the 4-year period. Because of incomplete plans, a limited number of audit reports, and the lack of audit reports of AOC's mega projects, AOC and the Congress did not have the full benefit of OIG findings and recommendations and were not kept fully and currently informed of possible AOC problems and deficiencies during the 4-year period.

In fiscal year 2014, the IG rescinded the OIG's law enforcement authority and removed the OIG investigators' responsibility to complete criminal investigations. Instead, the OIG's investigators have responsibility for administrative investigations and rely primarily on the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) to perform criminal investigations, and on occasion other AOC program offices perform their own investigations. USCP and AOC program offices are not subject to CIGIE standards. The OIG is required to follow CIGIE standards for investigations. These OIG changes contributed in part to a decline in investigative reports and monetary accomplishments. The OIG has volunteered to receive a peer review of its investigations that could be expanded to include consideration of investigations by these other entities.

Reports of Audits and Investigations, Other Reports, and Monetary Accomplishments, Fiscal Years 2012 through 2015

Fiscal year

Audit reports

Investigative reports

Other reports

Total monetary accomplishments

2012

4

23

7

$1,032,485

2013

5

30

1

444,930

2014

3

12

7

242,610

2015

2

11

1

7,260

Total

14

76

16

$1,727,285

Source: GAO analysis of Architect of the Capitol Office of Inspector General-reported data. I GAO-17-25

Why GAO Did This Study

The AOC OIG was established by statute in 2007, in part because of congressional concerns about time delays and cost overruns during construction of the Capitol Visitor Center. GAO was asked to assess the AOC OIG's oversight of AOC. This report describes AOC areas subject to OIG oversight and examines the extent to which the OIG developed plans and policies for AOC oversight for fiscal years 2012 through 2015 and the extent to which oversight was provided. GAO reviewed AOC's annual performance and accountability reports, the OIG's statutory requirements, the OIG's policies and procedures, and applicable CIGIE standards. GAO also interviewed AOC OIG officials, analyzed the OIG's plans and reports for the 4-year period, and compared these efforts with the AOC areas subject to oversight.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making two recommendations to the AOC OIG to (1) revise and implement policies and procedures to provide audit reports based on planning that includes risk assessment and assignment of priorities consistent with CIGIE standards and (2) obtain a peer review from another federal OIG of overall investigative operations, including consideration of the OIG's reliance on investigations performed by other entities, and to make any needed changes based on the results of such review. In comments on a draft of this report, the AOC OIG agreed with the two recommendations but raised concerns with some of GAO's findings. GAO continues to believe that its findings are valid, as discussed in the report.

For more information, contact Beryl H. Davis at (202) 512-2623 or davisbh@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: The AOC OIG agreed with this recommendation and stated that it would implement the recommendation. The OIG acknowledged our findings on audit planning and the number of audit reports on AOC's major construction projects and jurisdictions and stated that the OIG has now moved away from an approach that appeared to simply monitor projects and will incorporate a more formal risk assessment and prioritization process into its audit planning.

    Recommendation: To provide increased oversight of AOC and to keep the Architect and the Congress fully and currently informed, the AOC OIG should revise and implement policies and procedures to provide audit reports that are based on planning that includes an assessment of risk and the assignment of priorities, consistent with requirements in CIGIE's Quality Standards for Federal Offices of Inspector General.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: The OIG agreed with our recommendation to work with CIGIE to obtain a peer review of the AOC OIG?s investigative operations, including consideration of the OIG?s reliance on investigations performed by other entities. The AOC OIG also stated that it has already taken some steps to improve its investigations, including revising its investigative policies and procedures and hiring additional staff.

    Recommendation: To reduce the risk that fraud, waste, and abuse and criminal activities are not detected or fully addressed, the AOC OIG should (1) work with CIGIE to obtain a peer review from another federal OIG of the AOC OIG's overall investigative operations, including consideration of the OIG's reliance on investigations performed by other entities, and (2) make any needed changes in its operating procedures based on the results of the review to help ensure that investigations of AOC are conducted in accordance with CIGIE standards for investigations and AOC Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act) requirements.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

 

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