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Reflections On the Inauguration of President Obama

Several thoughts have been running through my mind as I reflect on President Obama’s inauguration. The first observation comes from pride as a retired Secret Service agent – the colossal accomplishment of the venerable agency which allowed the President to participate in panoply of events surrounding his oath on January 20th on the West Capitol steps.

The complex planning and coordination that allows the President’s accessibility to the electorate while protecting his person, is worthy, indeed, of great praise and admiration.

For all of the visible presence of agents and police officers who provided security during all the ceremonial events, there was an unseen legion of operatives conducting complementary, but equally essential security operations for days in advance, in bitter cold weather and in markedly challenging circumstances.

The willful and essential self-effacement of the Secret Service permits no such adulation for these accomplishments. Still, the agency’s great organizational skill and sacrifice deserve a resounding “well done”. It is certainly and richly deserved.

My second observation concerns the phrase in the President’s inaugural address in which he calls us to a “new era of responsibility,” and then goes on to state about government: “The question we ask is not whether the government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”

As a retired Inspector General I know that a relatively unsung dimension of federal law enforcement exists to help the President meet this challenge. The Offices of Inspectors General throughout the Executive Branch exist by statute to root out fraud, waste, abuse and inefficiency in government and its programs. These dedicated criminal investigators and auditors have amassed a substantial record of accomplishment in government stewardship the past 30 years since the passage of the Inspector General Act of 1978.

President Obama’s new Chief Performance Officer, Nancy Killefer (and Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget) is ex officio the Vice Chairperson of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency ,whose members are the Inspectors General.

Two outstanding examples of public service as an Inspector General are the Hon. Glenn Fine at Justice and the Hon. Earl Devaney at Interior. Both exemplify the integrity and non-partisan conduct of the office through their exemplary work. Ms. Killefer would be well served to heed the counsel of these people as she helps the President achieve his goal to “do our business in the light of day because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

(Jim Huse is the CEO of IntegriGuard, LLC, a program integrity, payment accuracy company in Omaha, NE. You can learn more about him and his company at www.integriguard.org).


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