NASA v. FLRA, 527 U.S. 229, 12 (1999)

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Opinion of the Court

The IGA created no central office or officer to supervise, direct, or coordinate the work of all OIG's and their respective staffs. Other than congressional committees (which are the recipients of the reports prepared by each Inspector General) and the President (who has the power to remove an Inspector General), each Inspector General has no supervising authority—except the head of the agency of which the OIG is a part. There is no "OIG-OIG." Thus, for example, NASA-OIG maintains an office at NASA's Huntsville facility, which reports to NASA-OIG in Washington, and then to the NASA Administrator, who is the head of the agency. 11(1); 50 F. L. R. A., at 602.4 In conducting their work, Congress certainly intended that the various OIG's would enjoy a great deal of autonomy. But unlike the jurisdiction of many law enforcement agencies, an OIG's investigative office, as contemplated by the IGA, is performed with regard to, and on behalf of, the particular agency in which it is stationed. See 5 U. S. C. App. 2, 4(a), 6(a)(2). In common parlance, the investigators employed in NASA's OIG are unquestionably "representatives" of NASA when acting within the scope of their employment.

Minimizing the significance of this statutory plan, NASA and NASA-OIG emphasize the potentially divergent interests of the OIG's and their parent agencies. To be sure, OIG's maintain authority to initiate and conduct investigations and audits without interference from the head of the agency. 3(a). And the ability to proceed without consent from agency higher-ups is vital to effectuating Congress' intent and maintaining an opportunity for objective inquiries into bureaucratic waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.5

4 At oral argument, NASA and NASA-OIG indicated that the Administrator's general supervision authority includes the ability to require its Inspector General to comply with, inter alia, equal employment opportunity regulations. Tr. of Oral Arg. 5.

5 See 2; S. Rep. No. 95-1071, pp. 1, 5-7, 9 (1978); H. R. Rep. No. 95-584, pp. 2, 5-6 (1977).

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