House Inspector General Is Appointed

Posted July 30, 2010 at 3:03pm

Updated: 5:30 p.m.

Theresa Grafenstine was appointed as House Inspector General on Friday, according to sources in the House Administration Committee and the IG’s office.

She had been serving as acting IG since James Cornell resigned from the post earlier this year to help establish a Christian school in New Jersey. Since 1998, she had been deputy IG under Cornell.

“Ms. Grafenstine will be an independent voice in continuing our efforts to ensure accountability and transparency in financial matters and the management of House operations,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “She will also make history as the first woman to lead the Office of Inspector General.”

After being approved by a bipartisan selection committee, Grafenstine was approved by the Speaker, Majority Leader and Minority Leader.

“Terry Grafenstine is a highly-qualified veteran of the office she will now lead,” Michael Steel, spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “Her appointment as Inspector General of the House is well-deserved.”

House Administration Committee ranking member Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) released a statement saying, “She is a qualified candidate with a proven ability to identify and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse within House operations and I’m pleased that Leadership accepted the unanimous recommendation of the bipartisan selection panel.”

The office, responsible for internal audits and investigations, was created in the 103rd Congress. The first IG was appointed in November 1993.

Grafenstine has some big shoes to fill: Cornell won bipartisan praise for discovering, among other things, that a former aide to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) was embezzling money and that several “shared staffers” were improperly billing Members. In 2008, he also wrote a report on the House Page Program, recommending new positions and regulations to improve supervision of the teenagers.

But his replacement has hit the ground running since she started the job.

Grafenstine led the investigation that revealed last month that the House’s payroll and financial counseling offices suffer from high turnover, miscommunication and low morale.

The 57-page report found a high level of “anxiety and uncertainty” among CAO employees in those offices, leading House appropriators to threaten to withhold $20 million of the CAO’s fiscal 2011 budget unless Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard took certain steps. Instead, Beard resigned, citing a desire “to pursue other interests and spend more time with my grandkids.”