House Approves Bill Strengthening IG’s Access to Information

Published: Jun 21, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2395, the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016. This legislation, sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), strengthens existing law by making clear that inspectors general (IG’s) are entitled to all information needed to pursue an investigation.

Chairman Chaffetz released the following statement upon passage of the bill:

“Inspectors General are at the heart of keeping the federal government honest. Yet, they face too many roadblocks in conducting their investigations. This legislation removes unnecessary obstacles designed to thwart the oversight process and clears a path toward greater openness and transparency.”

 Bill details:

  • Clarifies the intent of Congress for IGs to have complete access to all information and materials needed to identify waste, fraud, and abuse at an individual agency.
  • Authorizes IGs to issue testimonial subpoenas for federal government contractors and former federal employees.
  • Strengthens existing law to counter the OLC opinion, making clear IGs are entitled to all the information they need to pursue an investigation, including grand jury and wiretap information.

Background:

In August 2014, 47 IGs sent a letter to the Committee raising serious concerns about their access to documents and other important materials during investigations.

In July 2015, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued an opinion limiting IGs’ authority to access certain information, including grand jury materials.