A seasoned overseer of federal grant-making has returned to government. After a stint at a large services contractor, he recently became the inspector general at the Legal Services Corporation, one of the more unusual federal structures. Federal Drive with Tom Temin has this conversation with Tom Yatsco.
Tom Temin And let’s talk about the Legal Services Corporation. It’s kind of a unique animal. You might think it’s part of the Justice Department, but actually it’s independent and it’s not precisely an agency.
Tom Yatsco No, it’s really not. It was set up by Congress almost 50 years ago. The anniversary is next year, so everyone’s very excited about that. But it’s technically a private nonprofit corporation chartered by Congress. It’s largely federally funded like 90 plus percent. It provides grants to civil legal aid organizations for things like housing, family issues, consumer issues. They’re very strict limitations on what LSC funds can be used for. Pretty much anything controversial, abortion, lobbying, redistricting things like that. It was set up to be as apolitical as possible. And there are 130 grantees all across the country, including in U.S. territories. And it’s run by a board of directors of 11 members who are nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate. And no more than six can be of one party. So it also was intended to be a bipartisan board. And then later on, just like some other kind of designated federal entities like Amtrak, Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation, the Fed was required to have an inspector general. So what I do is just like what the HUD IG would do or the Justice IG, for example, would do. Efficiency, effectiveness, investigate allegations of fraud and so forth.
Tom Temin And just to get back to the mission. So the grantees