(VitalNews.org) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a Congressional agency tasked with providing Congress, executive branch department heads, and the public with fact-based, non-partisan information to improve government efficiency and save taxpayers money, according to the agency’s website. The agency acts as a watchdog on spending and regulatory compliance. Recently, the GAO notified the Biden administration that a few of its officials were holding their positions in violation of federal law.
The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 became law as part of an emergency omnibus consolidation package passed in 1998. The measure stipulates that an incoming president may only rely on “acting” officers in appointed positions for 300 days before the administration must appoint a permanent replacement. Otherwise, the office officially becomes “vacant.” On Wednesday, February 8, the GAO notified the Biden administration that three “acting” officials have overstayed the limit.
— Daily Wire News (@DailyWireNews) February 9, 2023
Charlotte A. Dye at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Deidre Harrison of the Office of Management and Budget, and Allison Randall from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women are currently holding their positions in violation of the 1998 statute. The administration has yet to announce a resolution.
Initially, the GAO also flagged Tae Johnson, who was the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Additionally, the agency raised concerns about Craig Hart, Karen Freeman, and Ann Marie Yastishock, who were former acting assistant administrators of the Bureau of Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development. However, all four employees recently received title changes and are no longer violating the law.
According to the Government Executive, a news digest for government issues, the GAO and the Department of Justice have gone back and forth regarding certain interpretations regarding vacancies between nominations and resets between administrations. Still, according to the outlet, the letter and not the spirit of the law concerns the GAO. So when Immigration and Customs Enforcement changed Tae Johnson’s title after the GAO notification from acting director to senior official performing the duties of the director, auditors ruled the administration was no longer in conflict.
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