The CIA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) had its origin in the Central Intelligence Group, but the position of Inspector General (IG) more closely related to the one we know today was established on 1 January 1952. By March 1953, the OIG mission was defined, and the IG was charged with conducting investigations throughout the Agency on behalf of the then Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and with inspecting the performance of missions and exercise of functions of all CIA offices and personnel. In May 1962, the positions of Chief of the Inspection Staff and Chief of the Audit Staff were established, although the former was often handled as a concurrent duty of the Deputy IG. The Investigations Staff was originally established as the OIG's Grievance Group in November 1977.
Scrutiny and Oversight: In 1975, the Rockefeller Commission found that the IG's role had varied depending on the differing styles and management approaches of each DCI. In 1976, the Church and Pike Committees were critical of the OIG, citing a lack of objectivity and insufficient authority and independence. In November 1987, almost 10 years later, the Congressional committees investigating the Iran-Contra affair concluded in their final report that the OIG "appears not to have had the manpower, resources, or tenacity to acquire key facts uncovered by the other investigations of the Iran-Contra affair." The shortcomings were attributed, in part, to the institutional limitations on the OIG as it was then operating, e.g., the same people overseeing and conducting the inspections and investigations, to include the IG and his deputy, would often return for onward career assignments to the components they had inspected or investigated. The committees believed that the creation of an independent, statutory IG would improve the effectiveness and objectivity of the office. Indeed, independence and objectivity were identified as critical elements by all who scrutinized the OIG over the years.
The Statutory Inspector General was created in November 1989. In its report on the legislation that created the statutory IG for CIA, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said the purpose was to improve the office's status within the Agency; to enhance its autonomy and capabilities, thereby improving the objectivity and effectiveness of its performance; and to improve congressional oversight of the CIA's activities. The IG is required by law to:
- Conduct, supervise, and coordinate—independently—audits, inspections, and investigations, relating to the programs and operations of the CIA to ensure that such programs and operations are conducted efficiently and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
- Keep the D/CIA fully and currently informed concerning violations of law and regulations, fraud, and other serious problems, abuses, and deficiencies that may occur in CIA programs and operations, and to report the progress made in implementing corrective action.
- Take due regard for the protection of intelligence sources and methods in the preparation of IG reports.
- Provide a semiannual report to the D/CIA summarizing the activities of the OIG during the immediately preceding six-month period, which the D/CIA is required to submit to the congressional intelligence committees within 30 days.
- Report immediately to the D/CIA any particularly serious or flagrant abuses, problems, or deficiencies relating to the administration of CIA programs or operations. The D/CIA is then required to transmit such reports to the intelligence committees within seven days.