At the center of almost every scandal that befalls a U.S. agency is its inspector general (IG), who is often the reason the problems are revealed in the first place. And yet, given their importance in uncovering bureaucratic failures and diagnosing why they occurred, it is remarkable how little scholarly attention IGs have received in the public administration and bureaucratic politics literatures. Nadia Hilliard's book, The Accountability State: U.S. Federal Inspectors General and the Pursuit of Democratic Integrity, helps fill this void by presenting a sophisticated and textured account of the IG office as a key mechanism to promote bureaucratic accountability.
Implementing a research design that combines interviews with key members of the IG community with an examination of an extensive set of primary documents, Hilliard begins by documenting the history of the IG position as it has evolved from the Inspector General Act of 1978, a valuable endeavor in itself. Still, the book's key findings emerge from detailed inquiries into the experiences of the IG offices in the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security. Not only do these rich narratives illustrate how IGs strive to balance the often conflicting desires of two principals, Congress and their departmental leadership, but also they importantly show how IGs have followed divergent
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