Fong: Trump budget cut would reduce return on IG investigations
Agriculture Department Inspector General Phyllis Fong said today that President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut the Office of the Inspector General’s budget by $10 million would cut the return that the government gets on her office’s investigations by $80 million.
At her 16th annual testimony before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Fong said that the government gets back $8 in fines and other payments for every dollar her office spends on investigations.
Fong did not take a position on the budget request, but said that if it were enacted her office would have 50 fewer employees, which would make it impossible to conduct as many investigations as it has in past years.
Many of the Inspector General’s investigations have focused on nutrition programs, but Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., noted that individual farm subsidy recipients get much more money and that when investigations find wrongdoing with the farm subsidy programs and the crop insurance program, the returns are greater.
During the hearing, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., noted that the Council for Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency gave the USDA Office of the Inspector General two audit awards for excellence in 2017, one for work evaluating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administrative costs and one for work on the operations of the U.S. Animal Meat Research Center.
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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., ranking member on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said today he expects to be indicted on allegations he lied to federal investigators about illegal contributions in 2016 from a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.