May 24, 2021

Senators Hassan and Grassley Introduce Bill to Strengthen Efforts to Root Out Waste, Fraud, & Abuse in Government

The Inspector General Testimonial Subpoena Authority Act Gives Inspectors General the Power to Subpoena Testimony from Witnesses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are today introducing the bipartisan Inspector General Testimonial Subpoena Authority Act, which would give Inspectors General the authority to subpoena former federal employees, as well as contractors and grantees, for in-person testimony, strengthening their ability to safeguard taxpayers.

 

“We must root out government waste and abuse. Strengthening the powers of Inspectors General so that they can complete their investigations is a commonsense step we can take to better prevent bad actors from wasting taxpayer money,” said Senator Hassan. “I’m glad to work with Senator Grassley on this bipartisan effort and look forward to continuing to work together with my colleagues to increase accountability and transparency in our government."

 

“Inspectors general are on the front lines fighting abuse and misconduct in government, but time and again, we’ve seen government officials simply leave government service to avoid scrutiny. This bill empowers inspectors general to compel testimony from former employees so bad actors in government can’t simply run from accountability by exiting government,” Senator Grassley said.

 

Independent Inspectors General conduct oversight over agencies and identify waste, fraud, and abuse, but individuals can stymie their investigations by refusing to testify. The bipartisan bill would expand the pool of information that Inspectors General can compel in the interest of completing any audit or investigation of the programs and operations of the agency they oversee. The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency has long called on Congress to provide testimonial subpoena authority. Key provisions of the bill include: 

  • Expanding the current subpoena power by allowing all Inspectors General to subpoena in-person attendance and testimony necessary to perform the duties of their office. If someone refuses to obey, Inspectors General have the authority to seek to enforce the subpoena in U.S. District Court;
  • Tasking the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, in consultation with the Attorney General, with issuing guidance to Inspectors General on the use of testimonial subpoenas; and
  • Requiring Inspectors General to notify the Attorney General seven days before issuing a subpoena.

 

The bill is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to cut waste, fraud, and abuse and save taxpayer dollars through supporting the Inspector General community. The government funding bill that was passed into law last year included the bipartisan Oversight.gov Authorization Act, which permanently established an online hub of information about Inspectors General and their work.

 

The 2020 funding bill also included the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored, to curb federal improper payments to the deceased and save taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, in 2019, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Hassan and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to close a loophole in the Medicaid rebate program that results in big pharmaceutical companies overcharging taxpayers. The bipartisan legislation will save taxpayers approximately $3.1 billion over the next 10 years.

 

Legislative text is available here.

 

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