Issue One is proud to endorse the Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2021 (S. 587), introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Gary Peters (D-MI). The bill ensures that the president or certain agency heads may not remove an inspector general (IG) without “substantive rationale, including detailed and case-specific reasons.” It also would require the president to give Congress a detailed account of the reasons for the potential removal of an IG, and during a 30 day review period, the IG remains in their position. Co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), James Lankford (R-OK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Under the current Inspector General Act of 1978, Congress must be notified 30 days before an IG is removed. This requirement, however, has proved insufficient as both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to provide adequate notice—in some cases placing IGs on administrative leave, in others appointing acting IGs during the notice period, and also designating political appointees to serve as acting IGs. These actions effectively remove the IG and circumvent the law. Further clarification is needed. The Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2021 codifies the clear intent of Congress into law.
“I commend Sens. Grassley and Peters for leading on this important bipartisan legislative effort that strengthens accountability in our federal government,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One. “Inspectors General play a vital role in maintaining ethical standards for both political appointees and career bureaucrats alike. The Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2021 ensures they are able to do their work with integrity and independence. We encourage the Senate to take up and pass this much needed legislation.”
Beyond requiring the president to provide detailed reasons for removing an IG and establishing specific requirements for administrative leave, the bill also limits who can serve as an IG in an acting capacity, requires the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to establish best practices, and necessitates that Inspector General Offices provide annual training to all their employees regarding whistleblower rights.
Issue One joins the National Whistleblower Center, the Government Accountability Project, the Partnership for Public Service, the Senior Executive Association, and the Project on Government Oversight in endorsing this bill. It is time to ensure IGs are able to maintain proper oversight to hold the executive branch and federal agencies accountable.