Senate bill would increase IG oversight

Congress may tighten controls on agency inspectors general but offer them more authority under new legislation introduced in the Senate.

The Inspector General Reform Act (S. 2324), which Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced Nov. 8, would guarantee that administrations appoint qualified people to be IGs, that IGs remain independent of agency pressure and that they make their reports accessible to the public.

The legislation would require information on each agency IG’s budget request to be sent to Congress with the administration’s proposal. Lawmakers want to make sure agencies are not reducing IG funding.

The bill would also establish a committee to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against inspectors general and their staff.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he supports the bill.

Congress created the IG position almost 30 years ago, and Lieberman said it is has been successful in general.

“Now, after several incidents in which the independence of inspectors general seems to be threatened — as well as some incidents of apparent IG misconduct — we need to revisit the legislation,” he said.

The bill follows a series of accounts revealing intimidation felt by IGs from top agency officials. For example, CIA IG John Helgerson is currently the subject of an internal investigation of his activities as IG, and Lurita Doan, the General Services Administration’s administrator, has been openly critical of her agency’s IG office and has tried to cut its budget and responsibilities.

In October, the House passed similar legislation with overwhelming support.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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