Justice Department Announces Plan to Administer Grant Funding Opportunities for Fiscal Year 2024 to Strengthen Community Safety
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Thank you, Inspector General [Kathy] Buller, for that very kind introduction, for your outstanding work as Inspector General of the Peace Corps and for your nearly three decades of public service in the Inspector General community. I also want to acknowledge Inspector General [Michael] Horowitz of the Department of Justice and Inspector General [Allison] Lerner of the National Science Foundation for their dedicated leadership as Chair and Vice Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). And I want to thank this distinguished group of inspectors general, auditors, attorneys and investigators – and your proud friends and family members – for welcoming me here today as we recognize your vital contributions; as we applaud your remarkable achievements; and as we reaffirm our shared commitment to making our nation safer, our communities more secure and our public agencies more responsive, more efficient and more effective for all Americans.
The 72 federal inspectors general offices have one of the most difficult and important jobs in all of government. It is a task basic to the functioning of our democracy: the task of ensuring that ours is a government not just of the people, but for the people – one sensitive to their concerns; responsive to their needs; and respectful of their sacrifices, whether in tax dollars or tours of duty. The scope of your responsibility is vast, covering areas that range from national security to veterans affairs; from agriculture to education. It demands fluency in law, finance and accounting; foreign policy and the tax code; food safety and public health. And in all areas, it requires a steadfast determination to seek out the truth; an unshakeable belief in the mission of our democracy; and a deep and unwavering commitment to our highest values and most fundamental ideals.
After all, the difficulty of your work lies not only in the range of your obligations, but also in their nature. As a U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the hard work of the Inspector General (IG) community. I worked with a number of Inspectors General, including for the Department of Justice, in order to make significant cases ranging from fraud during the construction of a federal courthouse to corruption within the ranks of corrections officers to a compromised employee in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And I saw how challenging your job can be. In the course of your duties, you are required to ask hard questions, to take unpopular stances and to expose yourself to criticism. You put in long hours, confront stubborn impediments and even risk injury and harm. And yet, even in the face of significant obstacles and complex challenges, the women and men in this room have amassed a truly impressive record: in FY 2014 alone, you and your colleagues identified more than $46.5 billion in potential savings for the American people and your efforts led to more than 5,100 suspensions and debarments; 5,500 indictments and criminal informations; and 5,800 successful prosecutions.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to highlight a select few of these remarkable accomplishments by awardees who have gone above and beyond the already-high standards of your profession. Among many other achievements, you identified corruption among contractors supplying our fuel in Afghanistan, exposed individuals involved in a tax fraud scheme at a Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center and uncovered doctors who were attempting to exploit federal disability programs. You caught farmers seeking to defraud the Department of Agriculture for millions in crop insurance, advised the Department of Education on new strategies to protect federal student aid and helped the Department of Energy strengthen its protocols for disposing of nuclear waste. Throughout your work, you reduced inefficiencies in numerous programs, improved services for countless citizens and curbed discrimination and harassment both inside and outside of federal agencies. Your vigilance has protected some of our most vulnerable citizens; your actions have thwarted crimes that threaten our security; and your hard work has improved the effectiveness of our government.
Each of today’s award recipients has made a measurable difference. But even beyond your individual achievements, you and your colleagues have collectively given something more. By investigating wrongdoing, excising waste and malfeasance and codifying best practices into the operating structures of our agencies, you are strengthening the institutions that govern our society. That is an essential part of the work that we must do together. It is a central component of our responsibility as public servants. And as long as men and women like you continue to stand up for what is right – and inspire others to do the same – I have no doubt that we will continue to make progress in our ongoing mission to create and sustain a society that is open, honest and just.
Thank you for all that you do to help make that work possible. Thank you for your partnership in our common cause. And thank you for your dedication to the principles that make this nation exceptional. Congratulations on these well-deserved awards. Please keep up the outstanding work.