Tester Leads Bipartisan Push to Boost Protections for Government Watchdogs Charged with Safeguarding Montanans’ Taxpayer Dollars

Securing Inspector General Independence Act will help IGs conduct oversight, provide government accountability to taxpayers

As the Trump Administration continues its assault on Inspectors General (IGs), U.S. Senator Jon Tester is leading a push to bolster protections for these critical watchdogs tasked with safeguarding Montanans’ taxpayer dollars.

Tester is cosponsoring the bipartisan Securing Inspector General Independence Act, which beefs up a 2008 law by requiring any Administration to report to Congress “detailed and case-specific” information when firing an IG, and eliminating the use of end-run attempts to curtail IGs investigative actions.

“Inspectors General are the watchdogs that serve as eyes and ears for Montana taxpayers—ensuring the federal government is spending their money wisely and helping root out waste, fraud and abuse wherever they find it,” Tester said. “In the face of this Administration’s repeated attempts to gut the role of these critical non-partisan independent watchdogs at major federal agencies, our bipartisan bill helps ensure IGs can do their jobs effectively and without political influence or obstruction.”

The Securing Inspector General Independence Act also ensures the independence of the IG community by requiring acting IGs to be selected from among senior-level employees within the watchdog community and protects the integrity of investigations and audits during an IG transition by requiring regular training to IG employees on their whistleblower rights.

Tester is a longtime champion of IGs and the critical watchdog function they perform, and has repeatedly condemned President Trump’s interference into their independent investigations. This includes the recent firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—who President Trump removed last month amid Linick’s investigation into potential corruption—and the firing of Intelligence Community IG Michael Atkinson—who Trump fired in retaliation for his handling of a whistleblower complaint regarding Ukraine.

To get this legislation passed, Tester is working alongside Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah.)—whom Tester teamed up with to urge the Administration to ensure the independence of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery—and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), as well as a number of his Democratic colleagues.

“Inspectors general play a vital role in the health of our democracy by holding federal agencies accountable and ensuring proper oversight of taxpayer dollars. I appreciate Chairman Grassley’s leadership on this legislation, which is aimed at protecting and maintaining the independence of inspectors general,” Romney said.

“The Obama administration set bad precedent when it ignored the inspector general protection law, but a court upheld its actions, and the Trump administration applied the same standard. Congress should expect more of the same from future administrations if it doesn’t act to clarify the law. This bill spells out Congress’ expectations from the Executive Branch when the President decides to remove an IG and prevents conflicts of interest that can arise when IGs are replaced with political appointees,” Grassley said.

You can read Tester’s bill HERE.