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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Investigations

POGO believes in improving transparency and accountability throughout the federal government.  We work with whistleblowers and other inside sources, and access information through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), to shed light on the government's activities.  Our goal is not only to expose problems, but also to propose solutions and work toward their implementation.
Please click on the links below to learn more about our investigations.  

Contract Oversight
In order to ensure that contractors supply the government with the goods and services agreed to under the financial terms and programmatic requirements outlined, it is important that the federal government conduct proper oversight of contracts. Good oversight holds contractors accountable; poor oversight often leads to waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. POGO’s Contract Oversight Investigations are aimed at preventing billions of dollars from being wasted and defrauded from the $530 billion annually spent by the government on goods and services.

Financial Oversight
In response to the deepening economic recession, the President and Congress have enacted sweeping new measures meant to stimulate economic growth and stabilize the nation’s financial markets. Although POGO takes no position on the merits of the various bailout and recovery initiatives, we believe it is essential that the ongoing expenditure of trillions of taxpayer dollars be subjected to extraordinary scrutiny. As a steering committee member of BailoutWatch and the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, POGO is committed to making the economic recovery more transparent and accountable. POGO is also developing recommendations to strengthen the nation’s financial regulatory agencies so that future crises can be avoided.

Good Government
POGO’s Good Government Investigations are aimed at making the federal government more effective, accountable, open, and honest. POGO offered good government recommendations to both presidential campaigns, and has been working with the Obama Administration to enact State Secret reforms. If enacted, POGO’s recommendations will make significant strides towards shrinking the cost of government operations, while at the same time making them work better.

Government Corruption
Today, the federal government is more vulnerable than ever to the influence of powerful special interests. The basic obligations of public service are undermined when an official maintains a close relationship with an industry that he or she is overseeing or regulating. The integrity of government is further jeopardized by public officials who use the resources of their office for personal, professional, or financial gain. POGO supports transparency and open government so that officials can be held accountable when they place private interests ahead of the public good.

Government Oversight
Our system of checks and balances must be maintained in order for the federal government to function effectively. Yet POGO has observed that Congress and the various agencies in charge of overseeing executive branch misconduct have been weakened in recent years. POGO seeks to improve oversight throughout the federal government to prevent the abuse of taxpayer dollars and the betrayal of the public’s trust.

Government Secrecy

POGO strongly believes that sunshine is the best disinfectant, and that we must empower citizens with information and tools to hold their government accountable. In many cases, POGO finds that the decision to remove a document from public access has less to do with matters of national security, and more to do with hiding corruption, intentional wrongdoing, or gross mismanagement. POGO’s Government Secrecy Investigations are aimed at preventing corruption and other misconduct in the federal government by encouraging insiders and whistleblowers to expose wrongdoing, increasing the ways that citizens can participate in their government, and improving citizen and journalist access to government documents and information. POGO has been working extensively on the White House’s Open Government Directive.

Homeland Security
POGO’s Homeland Security Investigations are challenging the government for failing to adequately protect the public in the aftermath of 9/11.  In 2002, the federal government created an enormous bureaucracy charged with domestic protection.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now the third largest agency in the federal government.  But the push to improve homeland security has been plagued by wasteful spending, poor contracting decisions, and a lack of oversight and accountability.   POGO seeks to improve the allocation of taxpayer dollars and resources in order to make the U.S. public more safe and secure.

POGO has launched an investigation to examine the government's housing policies.  This investigation will focus on issues such as impact of HUD policies on the recent foreclosure crisis, and the lack of oversight and accountability at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

National Security
Our country’s national defense should never take a back seat to private special interests. But too often it does, putting our nation’s servicemen and women at risk, and elevating the agendas of defense contractors ahead of legitimate national security needs. POGO investigates wasteful military spending, the cozy relationship between defense contractors and procurement officials, and malfunctioning weapons systems in order to draw attention to those cases where our national security has been compromised by greed, and in many cases,
sheer incompetence.

Natural Resources
The federal government has failed in its role as a steward of public natural resources. The tremendous influence exerted by oil and gas companies and other special interests has resulted in industry-friendly political appointments and legislative initiatives, and cozy relationships between the government and industry. The result has been a veritable fire sale on the nation’s oil, natural gas, and other resources. POGO's Natural Resources Investigations are aimed at making the federal government more accountable to Western states, Native American tribes, and the U.S. taxpayer.

Nuclear Safety & Security
Current and former presidents have agreed that the single greatest threat to global security is posed by nuclear materials. While POGO does not take a position on the use of nuclear power or nuclear weapons, we believe it is essential to secure the facilities from terrorist attacks and to ensure the safety of both the facility employees and the residents who live in nearby communities. POGO’s investigations have revealed that many of the nation’s nuclear facilities are poorly maintained, pose a substantial threat to their surrounding neighborhoods, and are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year to secure and maintain. POGO has made practical recommendations to the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission for addressing the glaring weaknesses of these facilities.

Public Health
One of the federal government’s most important jobs is protecting the public from contaminated food, dangerous medications and medical devices, and disease outbreaks. Unfortunately, many of the safeguards put in place to ensure the public’s well-being have been undermined by corporate interests. POGO’s investigations are aimed at improving transparency and accountability at the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies in charge of protecting public health.

In recent years, the airlines and other industries have had a tremendous influence over the federal agencies in charge of transportation and public safety.  POGO is calling for greater oversight and accountability to ensure that the public’s interest is not being undermined by lobbying from the transportation industry.

Whistleblower Issues
Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing corruption and other misconduct committed by the federal government and its contractors. The public relies on brave and honest employees to blow the whistle on wasteful spending, lax safety practices, dangerous products, and other abuses. Unfortunately, whistleblowers are almost always reprimanded, fired, and/or harassed, even if they have not “gone public” and even after their allegations are proven to be true. POGO’s investigations are aimed at helping whistleblowers achieve an open and accountable government while protecting them from intimidation and retaliation.