Steve Linick, a soft-spoken former prosecutor, calmly detailed how the department had yet to fully implement a number of security recommendations made in the aftermath of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
In some cases, Linick said, the changes proposed mimicked ones that had already been suggested after the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed 12 Americans and 32 Kenyans working for the State Department there.
The State Department
failed to implement the changes then, and in some cases, has failed to implement them again since Benghazi.
Among the issues left unaddressed: The department's lack of any formalized method of deciding when to place Marine security personnel at some high-risk outposts and when to leave the facilities without American troops.
"They simply just didn't have the processes and procedures that one would normally think you would have," Linick
told the committee.
The straight talk was nothing new from Linick
, who has surprised many inside and outside the State Department
willingness to publicly bash the department for lapses ranging from Benghazi to its mismanagement of millions of dollars of U.S. reconstruction money in Iraq and Afghanistan.
is also an unusually active inspector general: His
office has issued dozens of reports this year, including seven audits in the month of December alone.
John Sopko, the congressionally created watchdog for Afghan reconstruction, called Linick
"a breath of fresh air" for the department.
brings that view that he is supposed to be independent and he's supposed to speak truth to power," Sopko said.
And the high tempo is no accident: Linick
is in a literal sense making up for lost time.
post in late 2013, the inspector general position had been vacant for an eye-opening five and a half years, leaving the department without an independent and Senate-confirmed watchdog during a period marred by some of the worst miscues in the State Department's
put it in a recent interview with FP
, "That's a lot of real estate and people to protect."
did not have prior experience at the State Department
took the job in September 2013, but he
was no stranger to the difficult and politically challenging task of telling a federal agency to shape up.
Those recommendations can spark pushback from entrenched bureaucracies resistant to change and scrutiny among lawmakers eager to see quick action.
A father of two, Linick graduated from Georgetown University with an undergraduate degree in philosophy before moving to Burkina Faso, where he worked in international development for eight months before returning to Georgetown for a law degree.
kicked off his
law career as a district attorney in Philadelphia before spending 16 years in various roles fighting fraud and white-collar crime at the Justice Department
In 2010, right in the middle of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, he
was tapped as the Housing
and Finance Agency's
first-ever inspector general.
The agency was created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac
, which had combined assets of over $5 trillion.
Starting an agency from scratch was challenging - Linick
didn't even have an office phone when he
first got started - but in his
three years at HFA he
hired 150 people, issued more than 50 reports, and launched a management alert system to inform the public about mismanagement at the agency.
public recommendations put pressure on the agency and drastically lowered CEOs' salaries at both Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac
and in 2012 returned them both to profitability for the first time since 2008.
So when he
got to State in September 2013, he
identified what he
considered to be the department's most serious shortcomings - a dangerously weak cybersecurity program, $6 billion in contract files that couldn't be accounted for, and $1.2 billion in grants at risk of being mismanaged in outposts across the globe - and tried to address them by releasing public management alerts like he
had at HFA
"After looking at our reports over the years, I noticed that we are making the same findings, particularly about deficiencies in IT and contract and grant management, year after year," Linick
And as American troops continue to withdraw, Linick
said, the State Department's
need to oversee private sector contractors is only going to increase.
In March 2014, on his
first trip as inspector general, Linick
visited Afghanistan, where the State Department and USAID
have spent $9.7 billion on reconstruction since 2002.
In October, Linick reviewed eight internal investigations of the State Department's Diplomatic Security branch conducted by Geisel in 2012 and found three, including the early halt of the investigation into the prostitution charges, to have been wrongly influenced by senior State officials.
Linick flagged instances where months passed between reported incidents and the department's response, and claims by agents attempting to investigate an incident of sexual misconduct by another ambassador that they faced resistance from senior officials.
office made recommendations for safeguards to prevent undue favoritism and ensure all cases of misconduct are treated equally, State
has not yet provided OIG
with proof those protocols were implemented.
testified before Congress in mid-December about the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including then-Ambassador
to Libya Chris Stevens, he
with implementing 24 of the 28 main security recommendations made after the attack.
said two of the remaining ones - the lack of a clear plan for when to deploy Marines and improper vetting and oversight of locally hired guards - posed particular dangers.
"One bad actor with the right position and access can seriously endanger the safety and security of personnel overseas," he
is also coordinating closely with inspectors general from the Defense Department and USAID
to manage the oversight of spending on counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Syria, where the growing threat of the Islamic State
has the American government on high alert.
And it was at Kerry's request, the official said, that his
undersecretaries meet with Linick
each week, "even as we recognize that a good IG is an independent, pull no punches pair of eyes on every action we take and every dollar we spend."
But even if Kerry did request an IG in 2012, it took another year for President Obama
to name Linick
as a candidate and appoint him to the job.
already facing a mountain of challenges in getting the State
Department to agree to recommendations on grant management and embassy security, adding another layer to his
growing responsibilities could be a risk to his
ability to oversee existing programs.
And by having Rymer and Linick
join forces on a new anti-IS operation, it seems like the U.S. government is stretching already thin resources even thinner as its watchdogs balance thousands of projects across the globe.