Inspector General Act of 1978

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Inspector General Act of 1978
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to reorganize the executive branch of the Government and increase its economy and efficiency by establishing Offices of Inspector General within the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation, and within the Community Services Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the Veterans' Administration, and for other purposes.
Enacted bythe 95th United States Congress
EffectiveOctober 1, 1978
Public law95−452
Statutes at Large92 Stat. 1101 aka 92 Stat. 1101
Legislative history
  • Signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 12, 1978

The Inspector General Act of 1978 is a United States federal law (92 Stat. 1101) defining a standard set of Inspector General offices across several specified departments of the U.S. federal government.

The Act specifically creates Inspector General positions and offices in more than a dozen specific departments and agencies. The Act gave these inspectors general the authority to review the internal documents of their departments or offices. They were given responsibility to investigate fraud, to give policy advice (section 4), to handle certain complaints by employees, and to report to the heads of their agencies and to Congress on their activities every six months (section 5).

Many existing offices with names like Office of Audit, Office of Investigations, or similar were transferred, renamed, folded into the new IG offices.[1][2]

The core of the law is in Section 3a: "There shall be at the head of each Office an Inspector General who shall be appointed by the President, without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations. Each Inspector General shall report to and be under the general supervision of the head of the establishment involved or, to the extent such authority is delegated, the officer next in rank below such head, but shall not report to, or be subject to supervision by, any other officer of such establishment. Neither the head of the establishment nor the officer next in rank below such head 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."[2]

The Act and the Inspector General role were amended thirty years later by the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008,[3] which created the umbrella IG agency, Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).

In May 2020, after a series of IG firings for questionable causes, several House Democrats introduced a bill, H.R.6984, to amend the original act to protect against political retaliation and require just cause for IG dismissal.[4][5][6]


  1. ^ Section 9 of the Act
  2. ^ a b Full text of the Inspector General Act of 1978 on
  3. ^ Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, aka Public Law 110-409
  4. ^ Breuninger, Kevin (May 22, 2020). "House Democrats introduce inspector general protection bill after Trump fires several watchdogs". CNBC. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  5. ^ Perez, Matt (May 22, 2020). "House Democrats Introduce Bill Limiting Trump's Ability To Fire Inspectors General". Forbes. Retrieved May 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Haynes, Danielle (May 22, 2020). "House Democrats seek protections for inspectors general". UPI. Retrieved May 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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