A law enacted a year ago given agency IGs greater authority is “a landmark piece of legislation welcomed by IGs and all advocates of government accountability and efficiency,” the IG council has said in its latest annual report.
The Inspector General Empowerment Act “confirms that federal IGs are entitled to full and prompt access to agency records, thereby eliminating any doubt about whether agencies are legally authorized to disclose potentially sensitive information to IGs. In so doing, the IGEA ensures that IGs have the ability to conduct audits, reviews, and investigations in an independent and efficient manner,” according to the report from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
“This provision was necessary because of refusals by a few agencies to provide their IGs with independent access to certain information that was available to the agency and relevant to ongoing oversight work by the agency IG. Further, it was necessary because of a Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinion in July 2015 asserting that the Inspector General Act did not entitle IGs to all records available to an agency. As result of the IGEA, this OLC opinion is no longer applicable. Other important provisions allow IGs to match data across agencies to help uncover wasteful spending and enhance the public’s access to information about misconduct among senior government employees,” it says.
The report adds that the law however did not reflect recommendations by IGs including that they be granted the authority to issue subpoenas for testimony–an issue the council continues to pursue with Congress.
The report said that cumulatively IGs recommended $25.2 billion in potential savings plus $19.9 billion in receivables and recoverables in 2016, which if fully implemented would represent a $17 return for every $1 spent on IG operations.