WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing with federal inspectors general to discuss bipartisan legislation he authored that would provide federal watchdogs with protections to strengthen independent oversight of the government’s effectiveness. Peters and the witnesses also examined the importance of ensuring the independence and integrity of inspectors general as they work to help Congress prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently. The hearing examined urgently needed reforms, including a bipartisan bill Peters reintroduced this year, to safeguard the independence of inspectors general and ensure that these watchdogs are better able to hold federal agencies accountable.
“It’s absolutely vital that our federal watchdogs are able to work independently and without the threat of political interference. Current law allows for actions that threaten to undermine this independence, including the removal of Inspectors General from office without sufficient explanation, and the appointment of partisan political operatives to serve in these traditionally nonpartisan roles,” said Senator Peters during his opening statement.
Peters continued: “We must ensure that no Administration is able to undercut the independent transparency and accountability that Inspectors General provide to the American people. That is why Ranking Member Portman and I are working together to enact the first significant reforms to support Inspectors General in more than 13 years.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks, as prepared, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions and closing, click here.
At the hearing, Peters questioned the witnesses about the importance of quickly passing bicameral and bipartisan reforms that he is working on to require a more detailed explanation from the President before removing an inspector general, ensure that acting inspectors general are selected from a pool of senior-level nonpartisan employees within the watchdog community, and provide federal watchdogs the authority to subpoena the testimony when needed, including from former federal officials. Peters and the witnesses also discussed the need to quickly pass these reforms to ensure that federal watchdogs have the tools and resources necessary to conduct strong oversight, save taxpayer dollars and help hold the federal government accountable to the American people.