Federal agencies

Inspector General Empowerment Act unanimously passes in Congress

United States Capitol Building

Photo: JungKang/iStock/Thinkstock

Washington – Congress has unanimously passed the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016 (H.R. 6450), legislation intended to strengthen the authority of the more than 70 Inspectors General across the federal government.

Provisions of the act, passed by the House on Dec. 8 and approved by the Senate on Dec. 10, include:

  • Confirming that federal IGs are entitled to full and prompt access to agency records, ensuring effective and independent audits, reviews and investigations
  • Allowing IGs to match data across agencies, helping to uncover wasteful spending while boosting public access to information on potential government misconduct

The act, which amends the Inspector General Act of 1978, was proposed after a July 2015 opinion from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel stated that the original act did not permit IGs access to all records available to agencies.

“Passage of the IG Empowerment Act enhances the IGs’ ability to fight waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct, protects whistleblowers who share information with IGs, increases government transparency, and bolsters the public’s confidence in the independence of IGs,” Michael Horowitz, DOJ IG and chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, said in a Dec. 12 press release. “For these reasons, the Act is an important milestone for good government.”

The bill now heads to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature.

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