Stimulus Proposal Must Protect Independent IG Oversight

Published: Jan 26, 2009

WASHINGTON D.C.House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) today objected to provisions in the Pelosi-Obey stimulus package threatening the independent oversight conducted by Department and Agency Inspectors General.“We shouldn’t put a leash and muzzle on independent investigators,” said Issa referring to the “Accountability and Transparency Board” proposed by the House Appropriations Committee.  “For years, Congress has received independent and credible assessment of waste and abuse in government from Inspectors General.  We simply shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken.”

Under the proposal, the presidentially appointed panel would be empowered to direct audits and investigations by Federal Inspectors General who were created three decades ago to conduct independent investigations of waste, fraud, and abuse and other wrong doing in Federal agencies.

A panel appointed by the President to “coordinate the audits and investigations of spending under this act by agency inspectors general,” effectively puts the agencies in charge of the Inspectors General who are supposed to oversee the spending of the stimulus.  Under the legislation, the chairman of the seven member panel would be a White House staff member while three other Members would be Deputy Secretaries – thus creating a direct conflict of interest by placing the subjects of IG scrutiny in charge of oversight.

“Any new oversight panel should be bipartisan in composition, conduct all meetings in public, and not infringe on the independence of Inspectors General,” said Issa who will offer an amendment to address these concerns.