September 27, 2008

Congress Sends McCaskill Inspector General Reform Bill to the President

Senator's first major piece of legislation would strengthen government oversight offices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress today sent the first piece of legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to the President to be signed into law.  The bill, which will improve efficiency and accountability within the federal government by strengthening the inspector general system, received unanimous approval in the Senate late Wednesday night and quick passage in the House of Representatives today, leaving only one final step before becoming law: the president’s signature.
After arriving in Washington, McCaskill decided to make her focus as a senator improving government accountability and protecting tax dollars, so it was fitting that the goal of her first bill was to strengthen the role of IGs who serve as taxpayer watchdogs.  The legislation passed this week would work to guarantee that qualified individuals are appointed to inspector general positions, IGs remain independent from inappropriate influence or pressure from the government agencies they oversee, and that IG reports are easily accessible to the public.
“I came to Washington promising to make government more accountable to the taxpayer and when I got here this is the first piece of legislation I introduced,” said McCaskill. “Inspectors General are the eyes and ears inside the federal government that keep Washington in line. If we don’t ensure that IGs are qualified and independent then we are going to continue to see the kind of waste, fraud, and abuse that is costing the taxpayers billions every year.”
This measure will provide greater independence for the IGs from the administration and agency officials, ensure that their oversight of government agencies is transparent and available to the public, and establish a council to share best practices, enhance training, develop inter-agency information-sharing policies, and generally strengthen the IG community.  
Because of differing House and Senate versions of the bill, a bipartisan group of legislators from both the House and Senate spent the last several months working together to negotiate a compromise and agree on identical language.  The revised language was filed in the Senate this week, and received quick passage Wednesday.  Following Senate passage, the House gave their approval today.
Specifically, the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 requires that: