• Eight Reasons Government Watchdogs Should Be Unleashed

    Federal departments and agencies may be more at risk for waste, fraud and abuse than ever, and the government’s official watchdogs want Congress to unleash them like never before.

    But not everybody in the nation’s capital wants that to happen.

    Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel said the FBI can withhold wiretap, credit and grand jury records from the Department of Justice Inspector General, even though the Inspector General Act of 1978 gives IGs access to “all” government records.

    Michael Horowitz, the DOJ IG and most of his colleagues among the 72 federal inspectors general are fighting back, urging Congress to pass legislation making it unequivocally clear that “all” records means all records.

    “Without timely and unfettered access to all necessary information, inspectors general cannot ensure that all government programs and operations are subject to exacting and independent scrutiny,” Horowitz and 38 other IGs told Congress Monday.

    Horowitz, Department of Commerce Acting Inspector General David Smith and former General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to detail their case for full access.

    Some members of Congress have already made it clear where they stand.

    “It’s important that the independent inspectors general have the access and resources they need to do their jobs,” Rep. Jim Jordan told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Open access is key, and any obstruction is unacceptable.”

    Recent news reports about IG investigations throughout the federal government suggest multiple reasons why Congress originally gave these officials full and independent oversight and the positive results of their work:

    1. To make sure federal workers aren’t watching porn on the job or sexually harassing women.

    Without the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General, taxpayers might never know EPA employees earning roughly $120,000 a year watched porn at work for hours every day. One employee downloaded 7,000 files of porn, and watched it for two to six hours a day, the IG said.

    EPA IG Arthur Elkins also revealed senior EPA officials did nothing when 16 women accused employee Peter Jutro of sexually harassing them. The EPA actually promoted the alleged harasser to another position where he was accused of sexually harassing six more women.

    2. To weed out frauds advocating climate-change while pretending to work for the CIA.

    It was also the EPA IG that first reported the agency’s senior policy adviser, John Beale, falsely claimed to work for the CIA so he could skip his day job, conning the EPA out of almost $900,000. A federal judge sentenced the alleged climate-change expert to 32 months in prison in December 2013.

    3. To know the TSA almost never detects firearms, explosives and other weapons brought through airport security.

    The ever-controversial Transportation Security Administration allowed 95 percent of fake explosives and weapons through dozens of the nation’s busiest airports during an undercover test, the TSA IG revealed in June.

    In one case, TSA workers didn’t notice a fake explosive device taped to an undercover agent’s back during a pat down. The Department of Homeland Security reassigned, but didn’t fire, acting TSA administrator Melvin Carraway. The TSA also failed to notice that the names of 73 aviation workers – most of whom had access to commercial aircraft – also appeared on terrorist watch lists.

    4. To make sure millionaires can’t free-load off taxpayers by living in public housing.

    The Housing and Urban Development IG reported that taxpayers have paid for public housing for a millionaire in Nebraska since 2010. The millionaire’s monthly rent is $300. Plus, HUD is spending $104.4 million this year on public housing occupied by families who earn too much to qualify such benefits. For every one of them, there is a genuinely needy family on public housing waiting lists, the IG found.

    5. To stop drug cartel-funded sex parties for Drug Enforcement Agency officials.

    Drug Enforcement Administration agents enjoyed “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Columbia, according to a DOJ IG report released in March. The IG also said Columbia police officers provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties.”

    Ten DEA agents eventually admitted to participating in the parties, but they only received suspensions of two to 10 days.

    6. To make sure Americans don’t board commercial jets with counterfeit parts.

    An investigation by the Department of Transportation IG led to a CEO pleading guilty last week for his role in the sale of counterfeit aircraft parts, including electronic flight controls. Jeffrey Krantz, CEO of Harry Krantz, LLC, pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., last week after he sold counterfeit microprocessors used in helicopters.

    7. To prevent secretaries of state from using private email servers to send and receive classified information.

    Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed none of the emails she sent on her personal server contained classified information when they were sent, but federal watchdogs said otherwise.

    The IGs for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Intelligence Community released a joint statement last week saying emails that contained classified information, but weren’t marked as such were sent from and to her private server. Those emails “should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system,” they said.

    8. Because where else can taxpayers get $17 back for every $1 invested in IGs?

    “Potential savings represent about a $17 return on every dollar invested in the IGs,” Small Business Administration IG Peggy Gustafson said at a Senate hearing last year. Figures compiled by the IGs indicate their combined budget total in 2013 was $2.7 billion in 2013, while their total potential savings — if all of their recommendations are implemented — equaled $46.3 billion.

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