June 18, 2020

Senators Hassan, Grassley, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Inspector General Protections

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Gary Peters (D-MI), and additional colleagues introduced bipartisan legislation today that helps to strengthen protections for Inspectors General (IGs), who conduct independent oversight of federal agencies.  

 

“Inspectors General are charged with conducting independent oversight of the federal government to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively, efficiently, and ethically. Inspectors General must be allowed to do their jobs without political interference,” said Senator Hassan. “Our bipartisan bill will help prevent any administration from firing an Inspector General without an adequate explanation and help protect the integrity of the work that Inspectors General do – I hope that Congress quickly passes this bill into law.”

 

Though the U.S. Constitution establishes the President’s authority to manage executive branch employees, including the firing of IGs, the 2008 Inspector General Reform Act requires the president to provide Congress with a written explanation at least 30 days prior to removing an IG to prevent politically-motivated terminations. However, President Trump’s recent actions to remove IGs demonstrate that current law does not go far enough to protect the independence and integrity of the IG community.

 

The Securing Inspector General Independence Act clarifies the 2008 law by requiring any administration to provide “substantive rationale, including detailed and case-specific reasons” prior to removing an IG. It also limits the use of administrative leave for IGs, including during the 30 days following the removal announcement. To ensure the independence of the IG community, the bill requires acting IGs to be selected from among senior-level employees within the watchdog community. To protect the integrity of investigations and audits during an IG transition, the bill requires IG employees to attend regular trainings on their rights as whistleblowers.

 

The bill is endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center, Government Accountability Project, and the Partnership for Public Service. The Council on Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency was consulted during the bill’s formation. Legislative text is available HERE.

 

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