The Agency for International Development blocked efforts by its inspector general last year to monitor U.S. foreign aid to Central America more closely, according to a report by the House Government Operations Committee.
The report, issued this week, cited the incident as an example of how U.S. officials can undermine an inspector general's independence by restricting his budget.
Early last year, according to the report, AID Inspector General Herbert L. Beckington sought to transfer personnel from his Washington office to Honduras to step up audits of U.S. aid to Central America. To finance the audits, he sought to reprogram $500,000 budgeted, but not spent, for audit work in Egypt.
AID requires that its comptroller approve requests to reprogram funds. The report said comptroller Curtis W. Christensen denied Beckington's request and deleted the $500,000 from his budget.
"The inspector general was unable to transfer the staff to Honduras . . . , " and lost previously authorized funds, the report said.
Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Tex.) said inspectors general may be "fatally compromised" if agency officials are allowed to delete funding for investigations.
In another case, the report said, a Commerce Department computer supervisor denied the inspector general's request for $700,000 to audit the computer operation.