Senate Homeland Security Committee Approves Bill to Extend the Term of the Special IG

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has unanimously approved a bill authored by Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and cosponsored by Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) that would extend the term of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Without this legislation, the SIGIR’s term would expire next year, on October 1, 2007. The Senators’ legislation would enable the SIGIR to continue his critical oversight work until late 2008. The provision was also approved earlier this week by the full Senate as an amendment to the fiscal year 2007 Military Construction Appropriations bill.

Similar to the amendment approved earlier this week, the bill, S. 4045, would reinstate the SIGIR’s previous termination schedule of ten months after 80 percent of funds for Iraq reconstruction have been expended. A recently enacted defense authorization bill includes a provision that would end the SIGIR’s oversight responsibilities next year. The Senators believe that the work of the SIGIR’s office, led by Stuart Bowen, is critical and has effectively rooted out millions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse, and therefore, must be continued.

Senator Collins said, “I am pleased by the strong support for this amendment and that our colleagues on both the Committee and full Senate recognize how crucial it is for the SIGIR’s work to continue. This office has proven to be a much-needed watchdog, auditing reconstruction contracts in Iraq and spotlighting numerous cases of waste, fraud, and abuse and we must keep the watchdog on the job. This office provides a $25 dollar benefit for every dollar spent on oversight and investigations. It is inconceivable that we would remove this aggressive oversight while the American taxpayer is still spending billions of dollars on Iraq reconstruction projects.”

Senator Lieberman said, “The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction has done a great job uncovering billions of taxpayer dollars wasted through abuse and mismanagement of Iraqi projects. His work is critically important, and I urge the House to act quickly so the American taxpayer can rest assured that the special inspector general will continue to monitor the spending of billions of taxpayer dollars in Iraq to ensure they are well spent.”

In further Committee action, Committee Members also unanimously approved the following nominations:

The Honorable James H. Bilbray to be Governor, U.S. Postal Service;
Thurgood Marshall, Jr. to be Governor, U.S. Postal Service;
The Honorable Dan G. Blair to be Chairman, Postal Rate Commission;
Stephen T. Conboy to be U.S. Marshal, Superior Court of the District of Columbia.