Top Oversight Committee Members Introduce IG Subpoena Authority Act
Today, as part of Sunshine Week, Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, the Vice Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney introduced the IG Subpoena Authority Act to grant testimonial subpoena authority to federal Inspectors General.
"Last month the Department of Justice Inspector General testified before our Committee that the status quo allowed former Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions to avoid questions from investigators about his role in separating children from their parents at the border,” Chairman Connolly said. “Inspectors General need testimonial subpoena authority to hold former officials accountable for their actions and the consequences of their policy decisions. We cannot allow individuals to escape accountability or hide critical information simply by leaving federal service.”
“Full and complete investigations are among the most effective tools our country has in securing transparency and holding government accountable,” said Vice Chair Gomez. “By giving Inspectors Generals the ability to compel testimony from contractors and former employees, the IG Subpoena Authority Act strongly reflects our committee’s ongoing commitment to addressing corruption and injustice nationwide.”
“It is long past time that Inspectors General have the powers to ensure that no stone goes unturned in an investigation,” Chairwoman Maloney said. “Former government officials and other parties with information that could help an investigation should not be able to hide from their responsibility to cooperate with an IG. At a time when multiple former officials have refused to comply with IG investigations, this bill would grant the government’s independent watchdogs a critical tool in ensuring transparency and accountability.”
The bill would grant Inspectors General subpoena authority to compel testimony from individuals other than current federal employees. The bill includes procedural safeguards. Under the bill, a testimonial subpoena would have to be approved by a special panel of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). If approved, notice would be given to the Attorney General, who would have ten days to object to its issuance if he or she determined that it would interfere with an ongoing investigation.
At a recent hearing before the Committee, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz explained that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to be interviewed as part of the Inspector General’s investigation of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy. Similarly, the Department of Transportation Inspector General’s recent report on former Secretary Elaine Chao noted that former Department officials refused interview requests. Without testimonial subpoena authority, these IGs were unable to obtain testimony from these witnesses.
In 2018, the House unanimously passed the IG Subpoena Authority Act.
Click here to read the IG Subpoena Authority Act.