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It’s not often that you can capture the precise moment when a culture of corruption within a government agency becomes fully institutionalized.
Normally, that’s a very slow process, in which tolerance of bad behavior by government employees increases gradually over time, until one day the corruption becomes fully dominant and can avoid any scrutiny or consequences for those who engaged in or knowingly tolerated the unethical conduct.
But a new Government Accountability Office report appears to have documented the exact moment when one small federal government office made that transition. The Daily Caller‘s Kathryn Watson reports:
An obscure federal watchdog overseeing the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) revoked his office’s authority to conduct criminal investigations, told agency managers to conduct their own investigations and stopped issuing audits on major projects, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
After AOC Inspector General Kevin Mulshine took control of the 10-person IG office with a $1.8 million budget in September 2013, tasked with holding capitol construction and groundskeeping accountable to the taxpaying public, he rendered his own office’s presence so irrelevant that it only saved taxpayers $7,620 in fiscal year 2015.
“The OIG’s lack of adequate audit planning, lack of criminal investigators, and reliance on AOC program offices to conduct investigation of alleged wrongdoing have contributed to a significant decline in its audit and investigative reports and reported monetary accomplishments,” GAO said. “As a result, AOC management and the Congress may not be fully and currently informed about potential problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of programs and operations of AOC.”
By inhibiting his own investigators’ ability to investigate potential misconduct or wasteful spending, Mulshine, who was appointed by President Obama to be the Architect of the Capitol’s Inspector General, has directly contributed to the effective institutionalization of corruption within the government office he was assigned to oversee.
To be sure, the Architect of the Capitol is a very small part of the federal government. But if you ever wondered about the origins of major government failures like the Department of Veterans Affairs’ wait-list scandal or the Environmental Protection Agency’s toxic contamination of a river—in which hardly any bureaucrats are held accountable and fired or prosecuted for their misconduct—such breaches can perhaps be directly traced to the purposeful blinding of the government’s watchdogs and their inability to impose accountability on badly behaving bureaucrats.