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Press Release | Academy Calls for Accountability Following Removal of the State Inspector General – May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020

AAD Staff

Washington, D.C. – President Trump has recently removed from office four key Inspectors General, including his dismissal on May 16 of the State Department IG. We believe that deciding how to react most effectively to this pattern requires both an examination of some first principles and the need for three urgent actions.


• One, government agencies need Inspectors General. Their job is to keep all State Department officials, both career and politically appointed, focused on their many duties to American taxpayers, starting by acting with probity and efficiency.

• Two, IGs must be independent and free to do their jobs without political or other pressure. In this, the two statutes that govern the State Department’s IG, the Foreign Service Act of 1980, section 209, and the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended in 1986, are clear: “Neither the Secretary of State nor any other officer of the Department shall prevent or prohibit the Inspector General from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation, or from issuing any subpoena during the course of any audit or investigation”. The law further states that the State IG “should be a person of unquestioned integrity, ability and experience and should enjoy complete independence in doing the job.”

• Three, while the President has the authority to remove an IG, the requirement that the President convey his reasons to both houses of Congress is clearly intended to prevent removal for partisan purposes and should have a basis in something other than opposition to the Inspector General's carrying out his duties as required by the Congress. We agree with Senator Grassley that “a general lack of confidence is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

The Academy calls on the Administration and the Congress quickly to do the following:

• First, the President should provide Congress with a more detailed and complete explanation for his removal of the State IG consistent with the law. The Congress should require that this is done immediately.

• Second, the Administration should quickly nominate a new State Department IG and the Senate should hold a hearing rapidly on the nomination. This may be Mr. Akard, who has been named Acting IG, but the Senate should decide confirmation based on the law. Page 2 of 2

• Third, as the Acting IG, Mr. Akard should publicly and explicitly state now his determination to carry out the IG's duties according to the law; independently, without regard to politics or favoritism.

The Academy believes that accountability is among the highest requirements of public service. It is the job of Inspectors General to hold government employees, politically appointed or career, to that goal. The Administration and the Congress must now also urgently meet that standard as they consider their next steps in the continuing saga of the fired IGs.

The Academy is a non-partisan and non-governmental organization of former senior diplomats including both career and non-career appointees. It is dedicated to strengthening the professionalism of diplomacy and explaining to the American people the importance of diplomacy.

This statement has been approved by the Board of Directors of the Academy.

Thomas R. Pickering Chairman

Marc Grossman Vice Chairman

Ronald E. Neumann President

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