Independence my arse


Here are the three values of the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (DoDIG):

– Integrity

– Independence

– Excellence


There was one particular event that happened when I served as an Inspector General that will forever stay with me.  My team was inspecting the Wing’s fighter squadron.  The health of the unit wasn’t great, command climate was below average relative to the other 25 units on the base.  We wrapped up the inspection, wrote the report and graded them accordingly, and, as you would expect, those grades weren’t stellar.  I took the report to the Wing Commander (the boss of the boss of the inspected squadron commander) and he changed the grades on the report.  We performed 26 inspections that year and had never had a report changed.  But the minute we said that the commander’s golden boy wasn’t all that golden, poof – that less-than-stellar report flew out the window faster than you can say “whitewash.”


When you look at inspectors general in the U.S. government, you’ll see that they are almost always subordinate to the head of the organization they are responsible for overseeing.  In other words, if you are the Inspector General for, say, the Defense Intelligence Agency, your boss is the Director of that same Defense Intelligence Agency.  Just like when I was Inspector General of a Fighter Wing in the Air Force, my boss was the commander of that Fighter Wing.  Oh yeah, he also wrote my performance evaluations.  So, how do you think most discussions go when a subordinate IG reports something to a commander who doesn’t agree with it?  Independence?  Who are we kidding?


But that’s really the point here – we aren’t kidding anyone.  It’s one of the biggest unspoken jokes in the government, this notion that an IG exercises any kind of true independence.  So long as an IG can be overridden by their superior for any arbitrary reason under the sun and there be no recourse, there will never exist independence.  This concept is not difficult to grasp and most savvy people in the military see it and acknowledge that the end result is that the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoDIG) is a toothless paper tiger, especially when it comes to issues of conduct and protections of military members.


Here is the Mission of the DoDIG:


– To detect and deter fraud, waste, and abuse in Department of Defense programs and operations;


– Promote the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of the DoD; and


– Help ensure ethical conduct throughout the DoD


Translated, here’s what that mission statement boils down to:


– Protect the military’s money;


– Protect the military’s money;


– Protect the military’s personnel


No typo that “protecting money” is typed twice…it’s listed twice in their mission statement.  And when you read about the DoDIG’s accomplishments, you note they proudly tout the millions of dollars they save each year.  Then we arrive at that “ensuring ethical conduct” piece when things get very murky, and this is where the DoDIG falls flat on its “independent” face.