Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) today introduced the Intelligence Community Audit Act of 2009, which would reaffirm and clarify the authority of the U.S. Comptroller General, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to review the activities of the Intelligence Community (IC).

This legislation, cosponsored by Senators Thomas Carper (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would also clarify the security procedures GAO must follow in conducting reviews of intelligence sources, methods and covert actions.

Senator Akaka said: “GAO’s expertise in constructive oversight has been squandered in the Intelligence Community for too long.  This bill would strengthen Congress’s ability to oversee Intelligence Community activities.  By employing GAO’s skill in improving management and operations while carefully protecting sensitive information, this bill would reinforce the Intelligence Community’s ability to accomplish its vital mission.”

Senator Carper said: “Good intelligence is essential to our national security. To get good intelligence, we must ensure that the financial management and overall administration of our nation’s intelligence community is more effective. For that reason, I strongly support allowing the Governmental Accountability Office to audit and evaluate programs, activities and financial transactions of our intelligence community to continue to protect Americans.”

Senator Lautenberg said:  “Congress has the critical responsibility to make sure the intelligence community is operating effectively as they work to keep our country safe.  This bill would help Congress complete that mission – and help us determine if we need to do more to keep Americans safe.  We need to use every tool we have to protect American families.”

Senator McCaskill said:  “I’m a big fan of the GAO. They work incredibly hard to help keep the federal government on the straight and narrow. This bill is a simple fix to ensure we have the watchdogs we need in the intelligence community while still maintaining the integrity of our national security.”

Senator Sanders said: “It is essential that we take advantage of the expertise of the GAO to be sure that our intelligence community is working as efficiently as possible.  This legislation strikes a reasonable balance between the essential protections of national intelligence information and the role GAO plays in assuring taxpayer money is not wasted.   The intelligence community should not be immune to efforts to continually improve government efficiency and assure that taxpayer dollars are spent on sound intelligence gathering and assessment procedures.”

Senator Wyden said:  “The Government Accountability Office already conducts audits of classified defense programs.  Their investigations help eliminate waste and ensure that tax dollars are spent in the most effective way possible. Allowing the GAO to bring these same auditing skills to bear on intelligence programs will improve oversight of intelligence spending and get taxpayers more bang for their buck.”

The IC has become more complex and integrated into U.S. national and homeland security efforts over the past few years.  The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 created the Office of Director of National Intelligence with the responsibility to coordinate closely the activities of 17 distinct components across the federal government that have intelligence responsibilities.   This bill would ensure that the IC has the benefit of GAO’s expertise, particularly with respect to management, as it exercises new responsibilities.