After their agency took an almost 50 percent budget hit, officials with the inspector general that monitors AmeriCorps and other community service programs warned that big reductions in staffing and oversight weren’t far behind.
They weren’t bluffing. From 33 employees in mid-January, the IG’s workforce has since shrunk to 17—in part because of a reduction-in-force–and another four employees are expected to leave soon for other jobs, Counsel Vincent Mulloy said in an email last week.
The office’s acting chief, deputy IG Ken Bach, was “heartened” that many employees were able to find work elsewhere, Mulloy said, “and regretted that he had to RIF those who had not.”
The workload has been downsized accordingly. Five planned audits have been postponed, for example, including a review of conference spending by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a look at space utilization at the corporation’s headquarters, and an evaluation of administrative costs incurred by AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps.
Also on hold are audits of five state commissions that receive corporation grant money, along with reviews of several Senior Corps grant recipients, Mulloy added. Although the IG will consider specific audit requests, the focus for now is on mundane but legally required work such as an audit of the corporation’s financial statement and a Federal Information Security and Management Act evaluation.
The cutbacks ensued after lawmakers whacked the inspector general’s budget from $7.7 million last year to $4 million now. The rationale remains mysterious. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs a subcommittee that helps write the IG’s budget, blamed House Republicans for the cut. A spokesman for Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who heads the comparable panel in the House, has not responded to requests for comment.
Next year looks only marginally better: Under the Obama administration’s fiscal 2013 budget request, the inspector general’s office will receive $5 million.