Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Horowitz appointed Westbrooks to head the oversight committee.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Horowitz appointed Westbrooks to head the oversight committee. Andrew Harnik / AP

IG Veteran Named Executive Director of Pandemic Oversight Committee 

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act established the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. 

The inspectors general council announced on Monday that Robert Westbrooks, an oversight veteran, would lead the pandemic accountability committee that was established in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act for novel coronavirus relief.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who chairs the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, appointed Robert Westbrooks as executive director of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The committee is one of several oversight provisions in the relief package that will ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misspent. Westbrooks most recently was the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation inspector general, helping to safeguard the retirement benefits of 35 million American workers and retirees. 

“I look forward to working with the entire oversight community–federal, state and local–to coordinate and conduct independent oversight over these critically important emergency relief programs, and help ensure that funds are used effectively and efficiently and major program risks are addressed,” said Westbrooks, who has over 25 years of experience in independent oversight. 

Westbrooks is a certified public accountant, certified internal auditor, a certified information systems auditor, attorney and former federal criminal investigator. In addition to working at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, he held leadership positions in the inspectors general offices for the Small Business Administration, Treasury Department, National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Also on Monday, the committee launched its website and Twitter account. “Today’s launch of the [committee's] website is the first of many steps that the [committee] will take to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the federal government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Horowitz. “As soon as the [committee] obtains spending information and other reporting data, we will be adding it to the website and the public can follow our efforts through our new Twitter feed.”

The website includes information on allocations of funding from the various coronavirus relief laws, IG reports on the pandemic, a list of ongoing work by IGs across the government, a whistleblower hotline form, and a form for individuals to submit feedback on the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

On March 30, the inspectors general council announced Glenn Fine, who was performing the duties of the Pentagon’s IG, would be committee chairman. However, on April 6, President Trump removed Fine from his position, thus stripping him of his ability to lead the committee. Although Fine remains principal deputy inspector general at the Pentagon, the position he held prior to becoming acting IG, the CARES Act stipulates that only current IGs can hold the chair position. 

Horowitz is now the acting chair for the committee and NASA IG Paul Martin is the vice chair. The committee also has 18 members who are IGs from across the government. A deputy executive director will be announced at a later date.