Senate Backs Amendment to Boost IGs' Power

Sen Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H. Sen Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H. Jim Cole/AP

The Senate has passed a bipartisan provision to provide a stronger force of inspectors general and to make agencies more accountable to their auditors.

The language -- proposed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and co-sponsored by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., among others -- passed by unanimous consent as an amendment to the Senate Democrats’ fiscal 2014 budget. The provision would boost funding for inspector general offices governmentwide to provide additional personnel and training.

The amendment, which Shaheen has also introduced as a standalone bill, would also increase scrutiny of agencies to ensure they respond and take action in response to IG investigations. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report earlier in March identifying nearly 17,000 unimplemented recommendations from inspectors general, worth as much as $67 billion in savings.

The provision would encourage President Obama to appoint IGs to agencies that currently have vacancies and calls for government contractors to increase the use of auditors.

The Project on Government Oversight called Shaheen a “champion for good government” and praised the measure.

“An important element of the government’s accountability structure, IGs oversee an agency’s use of taxpayer dollars in order to root out waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies,” wrote Christine Anderson, public policy fellow at POGO, in a blog post on the watchdog group’s website. Anderson called the funding increase “crucial,” pointing to the $35 in savings IGs secure for every $1 their offices spend.

Agency directors, such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, have said cuts to IG budgets mandated by sequestration backfire since internal auditors save money by identifying waste. Inspectors general across government stand to lose more than $100 million in funding due to the across-the-board cuts, according to POGO.

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