Inspecting the IGs

Posted November 14, 2007 at 6:45pm

Lawmakers came closer Wednesday to increasing Congressional oversight of inspectors general and revamping the 30-year-old system for the internal auditors of federal agencies. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill that would make a slew of changes to how inspectors general report budgets, receive raises, get legal advice and release reports. The bill, introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), answers long-standing concerns about the independence of IGs who work in the same agencies they audit.

In part, the bill would give Congress a more active role in the removal of IGs, standardize IGs’ pay and formally create a council that would review allegations of wrongdoing made against IGs.

A similar bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), passed the House on Oct. 3 by a vote of 404-11. McCaskill said she has high hopes for her bill after Cooper’s success in the House and the Senate bill’s bipartisan support. McCaskill plans to push for a vote on the bill by the end of the year.

“Even though I’m beginning to realize we can argue whether apple pie is a pie or a tart around here, I think this is about as close to apple pie as you can get,” she said.

An Alphabet Saga. The nonpartisan Office of Compliance soon may have a permanent head after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday tweaking the Congressional Accountability Act.

The OOC is charged with enforcing the CAA, a federal statute that ensures anti-discrimination laws apply to legislative branch employees.

A CAA provision inadvertently prohibits former and current OOC employees from moving up to the OOC’s four executive positions. But the OOC board of directors wants to put OOC Deputy Executive Director Tamara Chrisler in the top position — an apparent violation of the rules as they are now written.

Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) introduced the bill to fix that provision and give Chrisler a promotion. It passed the House in early October — almost 18 months after former Executive Director Bill Thompson left. As the OOC waits for it to pass the Senate, Chrisler works as both the acting executive director and the deputy executive director.

— Emily Yehle