Lean Mean Peace Corps-ing Machine

Senator John F. Kennedy challenged college students in 1960 at the University of Michigan to serve the country’s goal of promoting peace by working and living in other countries. A year later, in 1961, President Kennedy officially began the Peace Corps with help from Sargent Shriver and his family. Peace Corps is a federal agency with an Office of Inspector General (OIG) that is overseen by the House Appropriations, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Government Reform Committees and the Senate Appropriations, Foreign Relations and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees. The defined Peace Corps’ mission is to “promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: 1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women. 2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served. 3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans,” (Peace Corps Website). Peace Corps volunteers also joke that the fourth goal is to find a spouse because a large portion of volunteers go into Peace Corps single and leave engaged or married.

The actual mission is accomplished by placing Peace Corps Volunteers in developing communities throughout the world. During their 27-month service commitment, Volunteers learn the local and possibly regional language, adapt to local customs and become completely integrated into the life of their new communities. Volunteers work in one of six sectors: community economic development, health, education, agriculture, environment and youth in development. While volunteers have an official goal defined by their sector and specific job title, they are also encouraged to take on a secondary project based on what the community needs and their own interests and skills. More than 200,000 volunteers have served in over 139 countries since its inception.

The Inspector General Act of 1978 was in response to a lot of government corruption around President Nixon’s time. It The initial act designated 12 large federal offices in need of inspector generals. Later it was amended to include small to middle sized offices titled ‘designated federal entity’ such as the Peace Corps. The Inspector General of a federal agency exists to provide oversight and detect fraud, waste, and abuse. They are usually made up of teams of evaluators, auditors, and investigators. The OIG has special agents in the investigator team who investigate crime that happens on overseas U.S. property and mismanagement by Peace Corps related to crimes. The Peace Corps OIG specifically focuses on building legislation to better protect Peace Corps Volunteers (such as the Kate Puzey Act and IG Empowerment Act), the safety and security of volunteers and the IT security of Peace Corps systems. The OIG is a really interesting and fairly unheard of part of the government that I suggest everyone learn more about.

In the office right now, I am juggling a lot of different projects. I already completed organizing and updating our congressional contact list and created a master bill list to track bills that affect inspector generals. I had a meeting with the acting director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Intergovernmental Affairs to determine who our key external stakeholders are so I can begin fleshing out the strategic communication plan. The strategy’s main goal is to make sure all of our stakeholders know who we are and where they can report fraud, waste, and abuse too. My boss and I met with the marketing team to get OIG their own Google Analytics dashboard so we can track our users a little better. Last week I went to the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s public affairs meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency’s OIG. The IG Empowerment Act of 2016 changed the reporting requirements for the OIG’s Semiannual Reports to Congress (SARC). Because of this, I have been evaluating how other inspectors generals updated the formats of their SARC’s to see if we should change our format or adapt others. I have also been editing two statement of works for two different contracts we need to have competed for as the last ones end. Lastly, I have been gathering data for and updating our annual presentation to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). I’ve been working with a special agent to ensure the data is correct as well as going through past SARC’s and presentations to pull the data. I’ve learned a lot about excel this week (i.e. how to create drop down lists and add up the number of times a string of characters occur in the spreadsheet). I have also been reading a lot about FISMA, FSA and the related laws and acts surrounding them. I created 17 tweets to be tweeted by @PCOIG about the Audit of the Eastern Caribbean’s post. They got high praise from my boss and the Deputy Inspector General so hopefully, they get a lot of interactions and traffic. I started listening to the ‘My Favorite Murders’ podcast on Feral Audio so I’ve also learned a lot about serial killers throughout the U.S. I started walking home from work as well and am now exploring the city and I feel like I’m learning more about the sidewalk life of D.C., the layout and the people in it. Overall it’s been a very informative week.



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