Connolly Introduces Integrity Committee Transparency Act of 2019
Legislation to Reform Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency
Today, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee, introduced the bipartisan Integrity Committee Transparency Act of 2019 to increase accountability and transparency for the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s (CIGIE) Integrity Committee (IC). The IC is charged with investigating allegations of wrongdoing against OIG officials. Connolly was joined by Chairman of the Oversight Committee, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Government Operations subcommittee.
“Inspectors general must be pure as the driven snow because if they’re not all their work is tainted,” said Chairman Connolly. “Unfortunately, the Integrity Committee has, at times, operated without transparency, which is in contrast with the values of an OIG community whose greatest strength is sunlight. Our good government, bipartisan legislation would help re-instill confidence in this process and bring accountability to OIGs who might fall short of their obligations and responsibilities.”
The Integrity Committee Transparency Act would:
• Expedite the adjudication of cases and avoid backlogs by requiring stricter reporting requirements for any requests of deadline extensions from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s (CIGIE) Integrity Committee (IC).
• Promote transparency of allegations against OIGs by requiring the IC to report the number of allegations against each OIG.
• Increase accountability by requiring semi-annual briefings to Congress by the IC and, upon request, providing specific justifications for decisions not to refer an allegation of wrongdoing for further investigation.
• Provide additional and independent membership to the IC by authorizing the appointment of a former Inspector General to the IC
Inspectors general play a critical role in providing oversight of the executive and legislative branches. OIGs, better known by the public as “federal watchdogs,” help Congress uncover waste, fraud, and abuse at federal agencies, and they help agencies find efficiencies that can improve service to the American public. Congress established CIGIE eleven years ago by merging a council for the smaller OIGs and one for the larger OIGs. It began operations in 2009.
In fiscal year 2017 alone, OIGs identified $32.7 billion in potential savings across the federal government, as documented in the nearly 4,000 reports released. OIGs have also recovered $21.9 billion from settlements and civil judgments resulting from nearly 22,000 investigations. For American taxpayers, that means that for every dollar spent to fund offices of inspectors general, they can expect about a $22 return.
Connolly noted that since 2014, he has been asking the Integrity Committee to explain why a complaint of wrongdoing he sent to CIGIE about allegations of gross misconduct by an OIG was not referred for further investigation. The OIG in question reportedly issued his own response to CIGIE, but both the OIG and CIGIE have refused for years to provide Congress with any additional information, including a copy of that letter. Last week, Connolly once again reiterated his request for the letter.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.