[Excerpt] This semiannual period marks the most critical moment in the history of the Office of Inspector General. The March 1989 Department of Justice opinion that limits the criminal investigative scope of the Inspectors General will prevent many of these offices from achieving the goals which the Congress envisioned when it enacted the Inspector General Act of 1978. Within the Department of Labor, the opinion thwarts the Inspector General's efforts to address a flawed enforcement strategy.
The Department of Labor's overall enforcement strategy continues to place an inordinate reliance upon civil and administrative remedies at the expense of criminal enforcement. It is naive to think that this strategy will provide an effective deterrent to abuse, particularly in the areas of worker health and safety, employee benefit plans, and employee wage and hour standards. Those most affected by corruption in these areas generally are not the employees of "Fortune 500" companies, but workers from the lower end of the socio-economic scale -- those who most need the protection that government can afford them. It is this group that would benefit directly from an enforcement strategy in which flagrant abuses are addressed with vigorous criminal investigations and remedies commensurate with the offenses.
In recent months I have testified twice before congressional oversight committees on the compelling need to conduct criminal investigations in those areas that affect the economic well-being and health of the American worker. Further delay in resolving the Inspectors General's investigative jurisdiction is not in the public interest. The Congress should act promptly to assert its intentions regarding this issue.
In this report I also have focused attention on deficiencies in the Job Training Partnership Act and the Department of Labor's financial management system, as well as the continuing need to ensure that the audit process becomes a useful tool in the enforcement of laws designed to protect the nation's pension and welfare plans.