Inspectors General Reform Act strengthens federal agency watchdogs

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The Inspectors General Reform Act of 2008, passed unanimously by Congress last week, will give federal scientists a safe place to report political interference, on independent Web sites set up to receive anonymous reports about misconduct at federal agencies.

News release from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

September 29, 2008

Congress Passes Bill Strengthening Federal Agency Watchdogs
Statement by Francesca Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists

Congress unanimously approved legislation on Saturday that will improve accountability within the federal government by granting agency inspectors general greater independence from officials at the agencies they oversee. The bill was championed by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.), and Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

The “Inspectors General Reform Act of 2008,” H.R. 928, requires that all inspectors general maintain independent Web sites to receive anonymous complaints about waste, fraud and abuse at federal agencies, giving federal employees a secure way to report concerns about agency conduct.

The bill also establishes a Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, reinforcing the importance of inspectors general working together to identify systemic problems related to waste, fraud and abuse at federal agencies.

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Congress took an important step to promote a culture of accountability and transparency across federal agencies. This measure will help inspectors general remain independent from inappropriate influence or pressure from the government agencies they oversee, and that inspector general reports are easily accessible to the public.

“By requiring that all inspectors general maintain independent Web sites with a safe mechanism for anonymously reporting waste, fraud and abuse, this bill will give federal scientists a safe place to report instances of political interference in their work.

“Inspectors general have conducted numerous investigations exposing abuses of science at federal agencies. For example, a report by the Interior Department inspector general revealed a senior agency official had been bullying scientists and manipulating scientific research. This bill will strengthen their ability to lead these important investigations.

“This legislation is a strong companion to pending federal whistleblower protection legislation, another critical reform that Congress should enact this year to protect public health and safety.”

Search bill text from here.

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