Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) marked up and passed out of committee an inspector general (IG) reform bill, H.R. 2662, the IG Independence and Empowerment Act. The bill was reported on a bipartisan voice vote. Notably, the bill included a manager’s amendment that incorporated aspects of several Senate IG reform bills, including S. 587, the Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2021, and S. 1794, the IG Testimonial Subpoena Authority Act. The amended bill would help protect IGs from unfair dismissal and would provide IGs with an important new power to get information from non-government employees, including former officials who might otherwise evade accountability. The bill is similar to IG reforms included in the Protecting Our Democracy Act (H.R. 5314/S. 2921)—a sweeping bill to restore checks and balances on the executive branch.
In reaction to the bill getting out of committee on a bipartisan basis, Holly Idelson, Policy Advocate at Protect Democracy, released the following statement:
“We commend the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for taking up and endorsing critical reforms that would ensure federal inspector generals have the independence they need to do their jobs at the standard the public deserves. As the watchdogs of our government, federal IGs play an important role in detecting and preventing instances of fraud and waste and investigating abuses of power. The Committee’s bipartisan markup is part of a broader effort to empower the IG community and shows strong bipartisan support for such reforms. Similar reforms are part of the broader Protecting Our Democracy Act, which seeks to ensure proper oversight and accountability of the executive branch. IGs must have the tools, authorities, and independence they need to do their jobs effectively. The bottom line is that if lawmakers are serious about fighting corruption and regaining public trust in government, a crucial step is enacting reforms like these to strengthen the inspector general system.”
In August, Protect Democracy joined nearly a dozen other cross-partisan organizations in a letter sent to Congress calling for the passage of the Securing Inspector General Independence Act. For more resources about the IG reforms, including those within the Protecting Our Democracy Act, click here.