Empower Oversight, along with 20 other groups, co-signed a letter to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the urgent need to improve the inspector general system.
The letter urges three reforms.
- One, protecting inspector general independence by requiring, “the president to communicate a detailed and case-specific reason why they are removing an inspector general and provide lawmakers the opportunity to determine whether the removal is appropriate and warranted.”
- Two, providing, “inspectors general with the tools they need to fully investigate wrongdoing,” in particular the ability force former government employees to answer questions. “Currently, government officials are able to evade an inspector general investigation by simply resigning their post. Congress must provide inspectors general with testimonial subpoena authority to close this accountability gap and to compel these individuals to provide testimony,” the letter states.
- And three, ensuring that Congress is better able to watch the watchdogs and, “inspectors general themselves are held accountable for wrongdoing.” This could be done by requiring “more detailed information to Congress regarding … allegations of misconduct against inspectors general,” the letter said.
The letter concludes, “Reforming the inspectors general system is a critical step toward fighting corruption and increasing public trust in our government.”
The following is a comment from Jason Foster, Founder and President of Empower Oversight and a key Senate staffer who helped negotiate unanimous passage of the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016:
“Giving inspectors general the power to compel testimony from former government officials is a particularly key reform that should be supported on a bipartisan basis. Short-sighted partisan thinking has no place in this debate. Anyone who supports holding former government officials accountable should support this provision. Whether it’s misleading a FISA court to spy on a rival campaign official or ignoring horrific reports of sexual abuse while seeking a job with USA Gymnastics, former government officials should not be able to avoid answering tough questions from inspector general investigators just because they retire or leave government as their misconduct is coming to light.”