Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, joined Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Committee Vice Chair Jimmy Gomez, Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, Committee Member Rep. Katie Porter and Rep. Ted Lieu to introduce the IG Independence and Empowerment Act to increase the independence of inspectors general (IGs) and protect them from any political retaliation.
“From identifying lapses in our national biodefense to conducting oversight of our military and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan, the work performed by federal inspectors general is critical to U.S. national security,” said Subcommittee Chairman Lynch. “Their collective mission to examine waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending has taken on even greater importance considering the trillions of dollars that have been expended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will safeguard our inspector generals from political retaliation and ensure these trusted government watchdogs are able to prevent the theft and misuse of American taxpayer dollars.”
“As Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I know first-hand the role Inspectors General play in independently and objectively working to expose waste, fraud, and abuse in government,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “This comprehensive bill would ensure that Inspectors General can perform their jobs free from political retaliation and that they have the tools needed to perform thorough investigations. Inspectors General are needed now more than ever to provide accountability for the over $5 trillion spent by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
“I’m proud to join Chairwoman Maloney as a cosponsor of the IG Independence and Empowerment Act,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “The former Administration’s interference in the work of our government’s independent investigative officers represented a serious attack on the rule of law. This legislation protects Inspectors General from political interference from either party and is part of House Democrats’ ongoing effort to renew Americans’ faith in government by ensuring the highest standards of transparency and accountability for agencies and those who serve in public office. I thank Chairwoman Maloney and the other authors of this bill for their hard work and commitment to preserving the rule of law.”
“During the past four years under the previous administration, the American public saw firsthand how Trump officials stopped at nothing to impede and disrupt independent investigations into fraud, waste, and abuses of power at the highest levels of government,” said Vice Chair Jimmy Gomez. “With the introduction of the IG Independence and Empowerment Act, we can right the wrongs of the past and help protect and empower inspectors general with the tools and resources needed to carry out their investigative responsibilities without fear of political retribution. I’d like to thank Chairwoman Maloney for her leadership on this important issue and for help restoring trust and accountability with the American people.”
“Inspectors general speak truth to power and are an essential component of effective federal oversight,” said Subcommittee Chairman Connolly. “In the wake of President Trump’s assault on the IGs, these legislative fixes are critical to rebuilding trust in government while holding IGs accountable.”
“Inspectors general have the important job of checking that the executive branch is working as it’s supposed to and actually getting help to the Americans who need it,” said Committee Member Porter. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues on the IG Independence and Empowerment Act, which includes a measure I wrote to strengthen requirements for people serving as IGs. Taxpayers deserve qualified public servants serving as our independent government watchdogs.”
“I’m pleased my bill to enhance the independence and integrity of our inspectors general was included in this comprehensive IG reform package,” said Rep. Ted Lieu. “Inspectors general are crucial to rooting out fraud, waste and corruption and ensuring government programs are working for the people. The IG Independence and Empowerment Act will fundamentally protect our nation’s inspectors general, which can save American taxpayers billions of dollars.”
The IG Independence and Empowerment Act contains the following bills and provisions, some of which was introduced during the 116th Congress:
- Chairwoman Maloney’s Inspector General Independence Act to allow an Inspector General to be removed only for cause;
- Rep. Lieu’s Inspector General Protection Act to require Congress to be notified before an Inspector General is placed on non-duty status;
- Rep Porter’s provision to require that an acting IG be an existing IG for another agency or serving as senior staff in an OIG;
- Chairman Connolly’s Integrity Committee Transparency Act to increase accountability and transparency for the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency Integrity Committee;
- Vice Chair Gomez’s IG Subpoena Authority Act to grant IGs the authority to subpoena witnesses who are not currently government employees for testimony;
- The Inspector General Access Act to provide the Department of Justice (DOJ) IG the authority to investigate wrongdoing by Department attorneys instead of deferring to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility;
- Chairman Connolly’s Enhanced Whistleblower Engagement Act that would expand whistleblower trainings to Office of Inspector General employees;
- Requiring notification to Congress and CIGIE of an IG’s ongoing investigations when an IG is placed on non-duty status;
- Providing a single appropriation for the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency; and
- Requiring IGs to notify Congress if agencies deny access to requested information.
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have endorsed the IG Independence and Empowerment Act.
On April 20, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. E.T., Subcommittee Chairman Connolly will continue to conduct oversight over IGs during a hearing entitled “Restoring Independence: Rebuilding the Federal Offices of Inspectors General.” The hearing will examine the importance of objective and impartial inspectors general (IGs), ways to strengthen their independence, and the tools they need to provide effective oversight of both their agencies and themselves. You can watch the hearing live here.
Click here to read the bill text.