The inter-agency council of IGs has again asked Congress for greater powers for conducting investigations into whistleblower complaints and other probes, including the authority to compel testimony from those—often a management official accused of retaliation or other wrongdoing—who resign or retire while an investigation is ongoing.
“OIG whistleblower investigations not only seek justice on behalf of individual whistleblowers but also seek to deter potential future reprisals and promote accountability for those who have retaliated or engaged in other misconduct,” Justice Department IG and chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency told a House hearing.
However, he said that currently only the IG at the Defense Department has such authority, called testimonial subpoena authority, and without it “an employee’s resignation or retirement can substantially hamper an IG audit, investigation, or other review into matters pertaining to that individual’s former responsibilities, including any action taken against a whistleblower.”
Legislation (S-3177) recently introduced in the Senate to grant such authority to the IG at Veterans Affairs could be broadened to include other agencies, as well.
“The IG community understands the potential concerns with granting OIGs such an authority. Accordingly, we support incorporating controls to ensure this authority is exercised properly,” he added.