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house Bill H.R. 23

Should Federal Agencies & Departments Notify Congress When Inspectors General are Put on Non-Duty Status?

Argument in favor

Inspectors General (IGs) are crucial watchdogs at federal agencies. Ensuring that Congress is informed when IGs are put on non-duty status and when IG roles are left vacant for extended periods of time will help ensure those positions at federal agencies are kept filled. Keeping IG positions filled across the federal government will ensure greater accountability at agencies.

jimK's Opinion
···
01/05/2021
<< 14 days, 22 hours, 4 minutes to EDALT >>. … … … IG’s are the Congressional watchdogs that are given great autonomy to conduct investigations into waste or abuse of the executive branch agencies and leadership. Their autonomy has been respected by every prior president since the Inspector’s General offices were established. Three or four IG’s were summarily fired by the trump when there were rumors that they have been investigating irregularities of the trump, the trump’s political appointees and/or their agencies, or were tasked to review whether the federal funds allocated under the CARES act were being allocated in accordance with Congressional expectations. That IG was fired before the funds even arrived and kept the Congress in the dark regarding the funds that went from taxpayers to directly support the trump’s businesses, Kushner’s investments and numerous enterprises affiliated with the senior trumpublican party leaders who have enabled the trump. This is as unethical and wrong as the trump co-opting the DOJ to be his political enforcer by ignoring the purpose of the DOJ as an apolitical agency for the people, or as installing unqualified political operatives in the CDC director’s office to keep him quiet, to rewrite or suppress CDC directives based on the trump’s political preferences, and to suppress access to and release of scientific data needed to control and manage the evolving pandemic which the trump decided to just ignore. It is truly sad to have to add legal restraints due to the abuses of the trump who considers himself above the rules, norms and laws which he treats as just being annoying speed-bumps blocking the path to his satisfying his ever-increasing lust for power.
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burrkitty's Opinion
···
01/05/2021
Reading the Nay reasoning on this cracked me up. “have managed to operate without IGs for extended periods of time proves that these personnel aren’t necessary to ensure their agencies’ proper functioning.” The fuck they have! “Operating” and “properly functioning” are two pretty damn big differences.
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Joan's Opinion
···
01/05/2021
No wonder there is so much fraud and malfeasance in the trump administration, 53 of 64 federal agencies have no IGs! IGs are necessary for the cabinet and all federal agencies to be our “watchdogs” otherwise these groups will make policy in the dark to the American people’s detriment.
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Argument opposed

The fact that numerous federal agencies have managed to operate without IGs for extended periods of time proves that these personnel aren’t necessary to ensure their agencies’ proper functioning. While it’d be ideal to have all IG positions filled across the federal government, this is a low priority that doesn’t rise to the level of requiring reports to Congress on this issue.

B.R.'s Opinion
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01/05/2021
Based on the information given on this bill, there appears to be a more important question to ask/answer, more specifically, is the position of IG necessary? On one hand, the information states that since 2007, efforts by the "agencies themselves" and administration are sidelining the importance of filling the positions. Despite some of the comments on this page, this is not a Trump issue based on the years sighted. In any event, this bill does nothing to address the real underlying problem.
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Ryan 's Opinion
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01/05/2021
Ted Lieu (D - CA) is a joke! I will not support anything this man does! Why would an IG be put on paid or unpaid non-duty status with no acting replacement? Thirty-seven (37) IGs require a presidential nomination, while 37 require an appointment by the agency. There are Assistant Inspector Generals and Whistleblower Protection Coordinators. Do your jobs! My favorite part of 5a U.S. Code § 3... (e) The annual rate of basic pay for an Inspector General (as defined under section 12(3)) shall be the rate payable for level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5314 of title 5, United States Code, plus 3 percent. Level III starts at $181,500.
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Jasen's Opinion
···
01/05/2021
The fact that numerous federal agencies have managed to operate without IGs for extended periods of time proves that these personnel aren’t necessary to ensure their agencies’ proper functioning. While it’d be ideal to have all IG positions filled across the federal government, this is a low priority that doesn’t rise to the level of requiring reports to Congress on this issue.
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What is House Bill H.R. 23?

This bill — the Inspector General Protection Act — would require federal agencies and departments to notify Congress within 30 days of enacting a personnel change such as putting their Inspector General (IG) on paid or unpaid non-duty status (current law already requires a president to notify Congress when an IG is being removed). It would also require the president to report to Congress if an IG hasn’t been nominated within 210 days after a position becomes vacant. In that report, the president would be required to provide the reasons for the lack of a nomination and a target date for nominating a replacement. 

Impact

Federal agencies and departments; IGs of federal agencies and departments; Congress; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 23

$0.00
The CBO estimates that there wouldn’t be a significant cost to implement this bill because the costs to report on IGs’ employment statuses wouldn’t be a significant additional burden.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress, which he originally introduced to pressure the president on Inspector General (IG) vacancies. After this bill passed the House Committee on Oversight and Reform by voice vote last Congress, Rep. Lieu said:

“Inspectors general are critical to ensuring we root out fraud, waste and abuse in our government. Efforts by agencies and administrations to sideline inspectors general threatens our democracy and hinders transparency. I’m grateful that Chairman Cummings and Ranking Member Jordan share Rep. Hice and my concern over this issue, which has plagued both democratic and republican administrations. I look forward to this bill getting a vote on the floor so we can re-establish much-needed authority to our inspectors general.”

Last Congress, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) expressed support for this bill in his opening statement at its committee markup, saying: 

“I am proud to support this bipartisan measure which would improve IG independence. The bill would also address the disturbingly slow nomination of IGs that has been the norm across multiple administrations. The bill would require notification of Congress 30 days prior to an IG being placed on leave. Such notification is already required prior to an IG being removed from duty. The bill also would require the President to report to Congress if he has not nominated an IG after 210 days of a vacancy occurring. The report must include the reasons for failing to make the nomination and a target date for doing so. The requirement will hopefully prod the executive branch to nominate IGs in a more timely manner. IGs provide critical oversight and accountability within federal agencies and the positions need to be filled more quickly than is currently the case.”

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), which studies IGs, supported this bill in the 115th Congress. In an email to Government Executive, POGO Policy Counsel Rebecca Jones said

“Federal inspectors general are essential to the functionality and accountability of federal agencies but it's crucial that Congress know when these entities lack permanent leadership. This bill encourages any sitting president, regardless of their party, to take the nominations of inspectors general seriously.”

This legislation has one cosponsor in the 117th Congress, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA).Last Congress,  bill passed the House by voice vote with Rep. Hice as its sole cosponsor.


Of Note: Research by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that vacancies spanning “from as little as two weeks to as long as six years” occurred in 53 of the 64 major IG offices over the period 2007-2016. The longest period of continuous vacancy for presidentially-appointed IGs was at the State Dept., which went without a permanent IG for five years and 258 days, beginning on January 16, 2008 until Steve Linick’s confirmation on September 30, 2013. The next-longest vacancy, at the Interior Dept.’s IG office, lasted four years and 273 days during the period the GAO studied— and continues today. 

Federal IGs serve as the heads of independent, non-partisan organizations at each executive branch agency. Their role is to serve as agency watchdogs, auditing their respective agencies to discover and investigate cases of misconduct, waste, fraud and other abuse of government procedures within the agency.

For Cabinet-level agencies, IGs are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Cabinet-level IGs can only be removed by the president. For other agencies, known as “designated federal agencies,” such as Amtrak, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Federal Reserve, IGs are appointed and removed by the agency heads

IGs are appointed based on their integrity and experience in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) observes that IGs have provided crucial information to the public during the Trump administration. This includes “the true number of families separated at the southern border [and] the General Service Administration’s “improper” failure to consider constitutional issues related to the government’s lease with the Trump Organization for the President’s DC hotel.” CREW continues, “Given the importance of IGs in curbing ethical abuses by the Trump administration, it should come as no surprise that the President has allowed many of these positions to remain vacant and nominated cronies in other cases.”

CREW observes that President Trump’s commitment to installing permanent, independent IGs has been questionable. Early in his presidency, Trump withdrew four IG candidates’ nominations before their Senate votes. Then, in summer 2018, Trump’s nominee for CIA IG, Christopher Sharpley, withdrew his name from consideration after former colleagues after former colleagues alleged he’d retaliate against whistleblowers in the office. As of February 2019, there were 12 IG vacancies — including five that’d lasted the entire duration of the Trump administration — at executive branch agencies


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / VitalyEdush)

AKA

Inspector General Protection Act

Official Title

To require congressional notification for certain changes in status of inspectors general, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJanuary 4th, 2021
    << 14 days, 22 hours, 4 minutes to EDALT >>. … … … IG’s are the Congressional watchdogs that are given great autonomy to conduct investigations into waste or abuse of the executive branch agencies and leadership. Their autonomy has been respected by every prior president since the Inspector’s General offices were established. Three or four IG’s were summarily fired by the trump when there were rumors that they have been investigating irregularities of the trump, the trump’s political appointees and/or their agencies, or were tasked to review whether the federal funds allocated under the CARES act were being allocated in accordance with Congressional expectations. That IG was fired before the funds even arrived and kept the Congress in the dark regarding the funds that went from taxpayers to directly support the trump’s businesses, Kushner’s investments and numerous enterprises affiliated with the senior trumpublican party leaders who have enabled the trump. This is as unethical and wrong as the trump co-opting the DOJ to be his political enforcer by ignoring the purpose of the DOJ as an apolitical agency for the people, or as installing unqualified political operatives in the CDC director’s office to keep him quiet, to rewrite or suppress CDC directives based on the trump’s political preferences, and to suppress access to and release of scientific data needed to control and manage the evolving pandemic which the trump decided to just ignore. It is truly sad to have to add legal restraints due to the abuses of the trump who considers himself above the rules, norms and laws which he treats as just being annoying speed-bumps blocking the path to his satisfying his ever-increasing lust for power.
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    Reading the Nay reasoning on this cracked me up. “have managed to operate without IGs for extended periods of time proves that these personnel aren’t necessary to ensure their agencies’ proper functioning.” The fuck they have! “Operating” and “properly functioning” are two pretty damn big differences.
    Like (16)
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    No wonder there is so much fraud and malfeasance in the trump administration, 53 of 64 federal agencies have no IGs! IGs are necessary for the cabinet and all federal agencies to be our “watchdogs” otherwise these groups will make policy in the dark to the American people’s detriment.
    Like (10)
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    I’m so tired of government officials and elected officials sneaky behavior. Do your job and show your work. No acting clueless, playing dumb or blaming the dog for your bad behavior.
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    Every government needs "watchdogs". What are they afraid of? Sounds like some of our representatives to congress don't want to have over-sight. Every citizen of this country has to report to someone. Even if you own your own business, over-sight comes from your customers. So, why not our Congress?
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    Inspector Generals sole purpose are to insure agencies are doing the work of the people correctly without bias and corruptness. It is necessary for the congressional oversight to know if the inspectors are not working. It’s terrible that we need a bill to do this, it should be inherit.
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    Good government is transparent and held accountable. Inspectors General should be empowered to do their jobs: watching for excesses and violations and reporting them to Congress for action. If anything interrupts that job, then Congress should be notified immediately so they can restore the flow of accountability and action. I think all Inspectors General should be non-partisan, and maybe we need to look at how they are being appointed now, but nothing should limit their power.
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    Hell yes, the more transparent the better !
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    Based on the information given on this bill, there appears to be a more important question to ask/answer, more specifically, is the position of IG necessary? On one hand, the information states that since 2007, efforts by the "agencies themselves" and administration are sidelining the importance of filling the positions. Despite some of the comments on this page, this is not a Trump issue based on the years sighted. In any event, this bill does nothing to address the real underlying problem.
    Like (2)
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    If we have learned nothing else in the last five years, we should have learned that oversight is crucial to democracy. The only thing that stopped further destruction of our government by the bloviated rabid orange gibbon, is the multi-level oversight. We cannot count on Congressional oversight (we've seen how easily it is subverted). These positions are extremely crucial. If anything they should be given greater autonomy and protection.
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    All three branches of government should be notified of any change in any agency changes of heads and all need to be vetted, no temporary appointments, only career personnel stand in, until vetted process is complete. Career person can only be let go if all branch sign off!
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    The more transparent the better!
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    Ted Lieu (D - CA) is a joke! I will not support anything this man does! Why would an IG be put on paid or unpaid non-duty status with no acting replacement? Thirty-seven (37) IGs require a presidential nomination, while 37 require an appointment by the agency. There are Assistant Inspector Generals and Whistleblower Protection Coordinators. Do your jobs! My favorite part of 5a U.S. Code § 3... (e) The annual rate of basic pay for an Inspector General (as defined under section 12(3)) shall be the rate payable for level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5314 of title 5, United States Code, plus 3 percent. Level III starts at $181,500.
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    Yes, we need to hold our government departments accountable at all times.
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    The fact that numerous federal agencies have managed to operate without IGs for extended periods of time proves that these personnel aren’t necessary to ensure their agencies’ proper functioning. While it’d be ideal to have all IG positions filled across the federal government, this is a low priority that doesn’t rise to the level of requiring reports to Congress on this issue.
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    And information as to what cause
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    They should also notify taxpayers via email phone and public broadcast of agency issues
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    Absolutely
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    Government accountability is extremely important. Obviously agencies can operate without one, but the point is to hold the agencies accountable. Without a watchdog in place, it's much easier for an agency to allow waste and fraud to occur. If anything, I'd argue that giving 210 days to nominate an IG is too long. That's half a year with relatively little accountability!
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    I support this bill.
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