This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Inspector General Act (IG Act). The purpose of this hearing was for the Committee, as the Senate’s primary IG oversight committee, to reflect on the health of the IGs, and to consider various proposals to amend the IG Act, including reform legislation (S. 2167) introduced by Senator Collins. The hearing’s first panel consisted of two prominent IGs – Susan Gaffney of HUD and June Gibbs Brown of HHS – who focused on their contrasting experiences and explored issues of concern in the IG community. The Committee also heard from an Administration witness, Ed DeSeve, Acting Deputy Director, Management of the Office of Management and Budget.
June Gibbs Brown’s Testimony. She is the longest serving member of the IG community and has been the Inspector General in five different Federal agencies since 1979. It is her belief that she and Secretary Shalala have struck the right balance and that an Inspector General can be a valued internal advisor on issues relating to fraud and abuse, without compromising the IG’s independence. Also, while she is consulted on agency programs and management issues, they are careful that she does not assume “program operating responsibilities” that would endanger her ability to independently audit or investigate those programs. She offered several recommendations on how other Inspectors General might achieve the type of productive working relationship with their agency heads as she has. One example she highlighted was that training should be provided for new political appointees on how to be a Federal manager and include a discussion of the role of the IGs. In her written testimony she commented on each provision of the Collins bill.
Susan Gaffney’s Testimony. She has been involved in Federal IG operations for 19 years. Ms. Gaffney discussed in great detail and with strong emotion her relationship with Secretary Cuomo. She stated that Secretary Cuomo is uncomfortable with the concept of an independent IG who is not subject to his control and who has a dual reporting responsibility to both the Secretary and the Congress. She detailed the many problems and issues she has with Secretary Cuomo and his senior staff, including HUD’s handling of an EEO complaint against Gaffney, pressure placed upon Gaffney not to criticize HUD 2020, and many other points. Ms. Gaffney detailed each issue in her written testimony. Senator Thompson expressed great concern about Ms. Gaffney’s struggles and told her to call him personally if she needed help with an issue.
Ed DeSeve’s Testimony. Mr. DeSeve serves as the Acting Deputy Director of Management of the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Chair of both IG councils. He applauded the efforts of the IGs over the last 20 years. He also addressed the issue of Ms. Gaffney’s troubled relationship with Secretary Cuomo and stated that he has mediated many of the disputes and remains optimistic that the two can develop a working relationship.