Congress

New bill would elevate IG pay, authority

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A bipartisan pair of Western senators have introduced a bill that would expand the authority and independence of federal inspectors general and raise their pay to senior executive levels.

The legislation, by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), would free IGs from some restrictions imposed by the Paperwork Reduction Act, allowing investigators to collect information in the course of audits, inspections and investigations without obtaining outside permission. It also would exempt IGs from certain requirements under the Freedom of Information Act, allowing them to withhold information from requesters.

The IG community, through the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, has been seeking such a change. Peggy Gustafson, IG at the Small Business Administration said at a November Senate hearing that such exemptions " would enhance the independence of IGs and remove lengthy processes that are better aligned with the role of government interactions with the public, than oversight of the government entity by the OIG."

The bill would also require that IGs be paid at or above the average compensation level of top agency employees such as CIOs, general counsels and other senior executives. At the same time, the bill stipulates that government employees moving into IG positions won't suffer any reduction of pay, even if that post specifies a lower rate of pay.

“Without independent oversight of federal departments and agencies, government transparency is an illusion. Inspectors general foster an environment of accountability while helping identify more efficient uses of tax dollars. The more we can help them do their jobs, the more light they can shine into the corners of government where taxpayer dollars go to die,” Enzi said.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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