Senate Approves Thompson, Lieberman Bill To Give Permanent Law Enforcement Authority To Certain Inspectors General

WASHINGTON – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-TN), and Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today announced that the Senate has approved S. 2530, a bill codifying existing law enforcement authority for certain federal inspector general agents. This legislation allows the Attorney General to authorize agents within certain presidentially appointed Inspectors General offices to carry firearms while engaged in official duties, make arrests under certain circumstances, and seek and execute search and arrest warrants.

“Inspectors General play a vital role in exposing serious management problems within their agencies, as well as assisting in investigations of crimes committed within our government,” Thompson said. “Many Inspectors General currently have temporary law enforcement authority and are using it successfully. This bill solidifies a practice already in place while providing for more oversight of the use of that authority.”

“This bill finally gives Inspectors General the tools they need to independently battle waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government,” Senator Lieberman said. “In addition to easing administrative burdens, this legislation frees Inspectors General from the need to be deputized by the Justice Department, and thus gives the Department the freedom to focus on homeland security.”

Currently, investigators in certain Inspector General offices are deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service at the direction of the Attorney General. However, these deputations must be renewed periodically. This process places a heavy burden on the Marshals Service, requiring it to be responsible for more than 2,500 agents without sufficient resources to conduct proper oversight. Additionally, the gaps in the renewal process can delay ongoing investigations.

S. 2530 eliminates this administrative burden, prevents gaps in the law enforcement authority that can occur during renewal, and provides increased oversight of the Inspectors General?s law enforcement authority by establishing an external review process. In addition, if the Attorney General determines that an agent no longer needs law enforcement authority, or has violated relevant guidelines, then that authority can be rescinded.