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Partisan divisions arose at a House hearing this week on a series of government accountability bills pending before the Oversight and Reform Committee.

Those bills include one (HR-2662) tying together nearly a dozen previously introduced proposals to increase the authority and independence of agency inspectors general, including a provision allowing them to subpoena testimony from federal employees who resign while an investigation is ongoing, which currently generally shields them from the reach of an IG.

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Much of the controversy focused on provisions limiting the White House’s ability to fire IGs, which Republicans framed as a political holdover from disputes that arose during the Trump administration over that issue.

Republicans raised objections on the same grounds to proposals to set new limits on using acting officials for extended periods in positions requiring Senate confirmation, another common practice during the prior administration, and to strengthen presidential record-keeping obligations.

However, there was bipartisan support for other proposals, including one to more fully disclose membership of outside committees that advise agencies on policy issues and add new protections against conflicts of interest.

Additional bills before the panel would require a continually updated accounting of political appointee positions and their incumbents; and protect federal employees from retaliation for requesting information under the Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act.

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook