Tester, Enzi introduce bill to empower government watchdogs
Senators’ bipartisan legislation spurred by recommendations at November hearing
(U.S. SENATE) – With Inspectors General saving American taxpayers $17 for every $1 spent on oversight, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) have introduced bipartisan legislation to empower these critical government watchdogs.
Tester and Enzi recently introduced the Oversight Workforce Improvement Act. The bill eliminates red tape that prevents Inspectors General from conducting more vigorous oversight – such as audits, investigations and evaluations – of government programs and spending.
Inspectors General saved taxpayers $46 billion in 2012. Tester and Enzi say freeing up more resources for officials will lead to even bigger savings for taxpayers, as well as more efficient government programs.
“The facts are clear: when we empower government watchdogs, we not only save hard-earned taxpayer dollars, but constituents also get more bang for their buck with better government programs,” said Tester, Chairman of the Senate subcommittee on federal efficiency. “By empowering Inspectors General, we save money and deliver better services to Americans.”
“Without independent oversight of federal departments and agencies, government transparency is an illusion,” said Enzi. “Inspectors General foster an environment of accountability while helping identify more efficient uses of tax dollars. The more we can help them do their jobs, the more light they can shine into the corners of government where taxpayer dollars go to die.”
Tester and Enzi’s Oversight Workforce Improvement Act expands privacy protections over more oversight cases, makes oversight officials more independent by removing certain reporting requirements and clarifies that Inspectors General may be paid at the same level as senior government officials.
At a November hearing that led to the bill’s introduction, the Inspector General of the Justice Department said more independence and access to information is key for oversight officials.
“The need for strong and effective independent oversight over agency operations has never been more important, and complete access to information is a cornerstone of effective independent oversight,” Michael Horowitz, Inspector General for the Department of Justice, told the panel.
Tester is the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce. Enzi is a member of the panel.
Tester and Enzi’s legislation is supported by the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency.