Congress

Oversight chief won't seek new term

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).  

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, shown here at a hearing on IT modernization, said he won't run for reelection in 2018.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will not seek re-election to Congress in 2018.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), 50, announced on his personal Facebook page that he would not run for any public office -- at least, not in 2018.

"For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives," he wrote. "I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector."

Chaffetz left open the possibility that he "may run again for public office, but not in 2018." One future possibility is the race for Utah governor in 2020.

Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called Chaffetz a "tenacious and dedicated public servant," adding that he "has fundamentally changed the culture on our committee so members … can disagree without being disagreeable."

Chaffetz was first elected to the House in 2008, and he succeeded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as oversight committee chairman in 2015.

As chairman, Chaffetz raised his political profile investigating waste, fraud and abuse under the Obama administration, taking a specific interest in IT and workforce issues.

Shortly after his election to oversight chairman, Chaffetz revived the Subcommittee on Information Technology and tapped then-freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) to serve as its chair. In Jan. 2016, Chaffetz said at the Brookings Institute, "IT is probably my biggest concern."

Also the IT side, among the subjects Chaffetz's committee investigated were the Office of Personnel Management breach that exposed personal data of 22 million federal employees and Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. He also explored the IT vulnerabilities at the Department of Education as well as legacy IT at large.

During his chairmanship, Chaffetz, a co-sponsor of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, displayed an interest in increasing federal transparency as well as reforming the civil service and federal acquisition systems.

In December 2016, President Barack Obama signed his Inspector General Empowerment Act into law.

In this Congress, Chaffetz has so far introduced two bills – one to curtail the warrantless use of cell phone trackers known as "stingrays" and another to prohibit the government from awarding grants or contracts to individuals or companies with "seriously delinquent" tax debt.

Under the Trump administration, Chaffetz has signed bipartisan letters nudging the administration to fill vacant IG posts and inquiring about White House records compliance, but he has been less than aggressive when it comes to investigating Trump's potential conflicts of interest and ties to Russia.

In January, Chaffetz applauded Trump's executive order instituting a hiring freeze as a positive step to enacting "long overdue" civil service reform.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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