Congress Passes the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016
In December, Congress finally gave the Inspector General's office the ability to more fully do its job by giving it full and prompt access to the documents of federal agencies.
The new act ensures that Inspector Generals (IGS) have the ability to conduct audits, reviews and investigations in an independent and efficient manner.
The act was necessary because of refusals by several agencies to provide their IGS with independent access to information. Lack of effective oversight means greater potential for criminal activity.
The issue was complicated by a Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinion in July 2015 asserting that the Inspector General Act did not entitle IGS to all records available to an agency.
Different federal agencies have engaged in serious criminal activity and breaches of the public trust at various times in the recent history of the United States and have been able to block investigations because the Inspector General's office did not have a sufficiently clear authority to gain access to all documents and people.
Department of Justice IG Michael E. Horowitz stated: "Passage of the IG Empowerment Act enhances the IGS' ability to fight waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct, protects whistleblowers who share information with IGS, increases government transparency, and bolsters the public's confidence in the independence of IGS. For these reasons, the Act is an important milestone for good government. The Inspector General community is grateful to the sponsors and co-sponsors of this Act and all those who stood up for independent oversight."
It is hoped that the Trump administration will continue to increase accountability within federal agencies and give the IGS the resources they need to investigate and expose malfeasance in every agency.