Oversight Leaders Introduce Bill to Enhance GAO Investigative Powers

Published: Mar 18, 2013

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., last week introduced H.R. 1162, the Government Accountability Office Improvement Act. The bill is scheduled to be considered at a full committee business meeting on Wednesday.
“The GAO’s work is vital to Congress and to this Committee in particular,” said Issa. “Congress must have current information on how Federal programs are performing in order to both legislate effectively and to conduct meaningful oversight.”
“Congress is responsible for holding federal agencies accountable for the way they spend taxpayer dollars, and GAO is Congress’ investigative arm,” said Cummings.  “This legislation gives GAO investigators the tools they need to do their job in order to root out waste, fraud, and abuse.”
The bill confirms that:
·         the Comptroller General  has standing to pursue litigation to compel access to federal agency information;
·         GAO has the right to make and retain copies of agency records;
·         GAO can administer oaths to witnesses when conducting audits and certain types of investigations;
·         GAO has the authority to access certain categories of records.
·        GAO’s responsibility to protect sensitive information and requires GAO to prescribe the policies necessary to protect proprietary or trade secret information from public disclosure.
Provisions identical to HR 1162 were passed by the House of Representatives on April 25, 2012 as part of the DATA Act. The legislation was not considered by the Senate.