Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examined ongoing limitations placed on information necessary to the oversight responsibilities of federal inspectors general and their staff. Inspectors Generalthe Honorable Michael E. Horowitz (DOJ), theHonorable Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. (EPA), and Ms. Kathy A. Buller (U.S. Peace Corps) testified during the hearing that despite clear language in the Inspector General Act, limitations continue to be placed on their ability to obtain access to information. In addition to the three IGs who appeared as official witnesses, over 30 federal Inspectors General were present at today’s hearing.
Section 61(a) of the Inspector General Act states that:
“…each Inspector General is authorized to have access to all records, reports, audits, reviews, documents, papers, recommendations, or other material available to the applicable establishment which relate to programs and operations with respect to which that Inspector General has responsibilities under this Act.”
On August 05, 2014, 47 Inspectors General sent a letter to Congress outlining the challenges they face obtaining access to information within their respective federal agencies.
“Inspectors General serve the American taxpayers as the first line of defense against waste, fraud, and abuse by government agencies. The Act directs that all records be given to the IGs. There aren’t exceptions, the law is crystal clear,” said Chairman Jason Chaffetz.
Inspector General Horowitz stated that “What we need to do is get back to where we were before 2010 when there was a culture of openness.”
Watch IG Horowitz’s statement on openness here.
Inspector General Elkins said in his opening statement that, “I have discussed today three major risks to OIG independence: access to agency documents; access to agency staff; and adequate funding. All of these are necessary to fully accomplish our mission. Yet the OIGs have control over none of these, nor ultimately can we compel solutions.”
Inspector General Buller expressed in her opening statement, “I am concerned about the Peace Corps’ ability to meet its commitments under the agreement, such as implementing a system that would permit OIG to review sexual assault cases without full access to information. Lacking such access, Congress will be unable to properly assess whether the Peace Corps is adequately responding to victims.”