Of Interest: OIG Audits, Inspections and Reports – A Window into Contracting Operations of the US State Department

Some of us have quirky habits.  I happen to love etymology and thoroughly enjoy doing research.  As my children can well attest, I drilled into them never really to believe what they read or are told is fact; always verify the information and go to the source, whenever possible.  Even those “experts” in their fields, whether in government or out, make mistakes or may not know their subject matter as well as they think they do.

One of the things I learnt working on U.S. Government programs, whether they be contracts or grants, is that the Offices of the Inspector General (OIG) of the various government agencies put out some interesting reports that have a wealth of information.

I find these audits/reports very useful to understand:

  • what a particular agency’s strengths and weaknesses might be,
  • what the contractor/grantee can do to help the agency overcome its weaknesses,
  • what the competition’s competencies and limitations are.

Even if the audit or report pertains to a certain agency or distinct area of performance or a specific geographical place, many of the issues usually addressed do apply across the board.

For example, the latest OIG audit on contract invoicing review by the Bureau of Narcotics and International Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) actually explains the invoicing process as well as the regulations that apply to invoicing.   Program implementation benefits immensely from having program managers or contracts representatives aware of these resources.

Of course, keeping abreast of all these resources requires an enormous amount of time devoted outside of the regular work day.  However, if you are quirky, like me, it is extremely rewarding!

 

Justice Sector Support Programs (JSSP) – Legal Systems of the World

It has never ceased to amaze me how many “experts” there are who work in the “justice sector” field, who are woefully unaware as to what the different legal systems are in the international arena.  The problem is that, with JSSP-type programs, not only should the “technical experts” know their subject well, but those who administer the programs (i.e., those involved in the management/operational/business side of the program) need to have an understanding of what the subject matter entails.  It takes a good professional to be willing to understand what the technical side of the project really involves.

As of 2011, the US Department of State relied on the below map to show what the legal systems of the world were.  I always liked the visual simplicity of this map.

Legal Systems of the World

Equally so, the simplicity of the summary of Civil and Common Law systems below helps anyone, lawyer and non-lawyer alike, to understand the significance of the map above.  screenshot_20180126-114224.png

Although a bit old, this State Department guide gives the reader a sense of the scope and breadth of what the US Government has been doing in the JSSP world:  INL Guide to Justice Sector Assistance.   I found this guide quite useful, through the years.

Justice Sector Support Programs – Resources

As an autodidact, I always am looking for material to read, absorb, analyze, and re-purpose for my own benefit.  Maybe it is a result of my life, moving here, there and yonder, having to adapt to new environments, and wanting to learn all about them.

I look forward to studying this amazing and free Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A Thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practice.

The CEELI Institute produced this massive tome, supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the US State Department.  If you have the time to look around, you will find there are many terrific resources for those interested in international development and justice sector support programs.

State’s OIG’s Work Plans.

You may be as quirky as I am, and enjoy knowing what the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) plans on auditing/inspecting this year and the next (Work Plans for 2018 and 2019 from the State Department’s OIG).  I have found that, through the years of reading audits and reports from the various US Government OIGs I have learnt a lot, especially how the US Government manages its contracts and personnel, as well as what are some of the contractors’ weaknesses and strengths.

For example, I have often marveled at how bad all parties to a contract can be with poor record keeping, despite knowing that, invariably, a government contract will be audited down the road.  It is amazing to me that we do not make an extra effort to ensure that records are easily accessible.  When working on rule of law programs in other countries, we stress the importance of accountability and transparency, with good record keeping being essential to fight corruption.