July 28, 2020

Senator Hassan Highlights Importance of Independent Oversight of Federal Government’s COVID-19 Response During Homeland Security Committee Hearing

Senator Hassan Also Raised Concerns Over Trump Administration’s History of Undermining Independence and Integrity of Inspector General Community

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, the lead Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, highlighted the importance of conducting independent oversight of the federal government’s COVID-19 response efforts to ensure that billions of dollars in federal funding are properly distributed.  

 

To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.

 

During a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing today, Senator Hassan discussed how the bipartisan CARES Act created a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery position to oversee the Treasury Department’s distribution of funds related to federal response efforts. In emphasizing the importance of ensuring that the Special Inspector General can conduct this oversight, Senator Hassan referenced a bill she cosponsored to help the Special Inspector General expedite their hiring process.

 

Neil Barofsky, who served as Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program following the 2008 financial crisis and received authority from Congress to expedite his hiring process, strongly endorsed this legislation: “It would have been impossible for us to be effective without it. You're a new special Inspector General, you're trying to hire people, you cannot go through the normal hiring process and wait months and months to go through competition...You cannot go through that process while hundreds of billions of dollars are going out the door.”

 

Senator Hassan replied, "It speaks to the need for our Inspectors General as a general matter, but also in this particular one, to really have some teeth behind their authorities." 

 

Senator Hassan also brought up her concerns over the Trump administration’s history of removing Inspectors General when the President doesn’t like their findings, which is detrimental to the effectiveness of the Inspectors General’s oversight authority.

 

The outrageous attempts by this administration to undermine the independence and integrity of the Inspectors General are well documented,” Senator Hassan said.

 

Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight, shared the Senator’s concerns: “Currently, we have a situation as you referenced, where the President has been removing IGs, ostensibly, for doing their jobs well. And what that is doing is not only removing good people from doing good jobs, but it's creating an environment for the existing IGs to really be fearful if they do their jobs well they'll be fired for it.”

 

Senator Hassan is working to ensure that Inspectors General have the protections and resources that they need to root out waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. Senator Hassan recently joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Gary Peters (D-MI), and additional colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation to require any administration to provide “substantive rationale, including detailed and case-specific reasons” prior to removing an Inspector General.

 

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