Bill would Improve the Way Inspector General Recommendations are Posted Online; this year Inspectors General Found over $20 Billion in Potential Taxpayer Savings

Legislation would Strengthen Congressional Oversight and the Public’s Ability to Evaluate How Federal Agencies are Tackling Problems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) today introduced a bipartisan bill to hold federal agencies accountable to act on recommendations that save taxpayer money and make government more efficient.

The legislation requires that all open recommendations from inspectors general (IG) at federal agencies that have remained unimplemented for more than a year be posted to a single, searchable website. This legislation would allow Congress and the public to keep better tabs on the problems that have been identified at the federal agencies where IGs conduct audits to combat waste, fraud, and abuse – and keep track of whether or not steps have been taken to resolve those problems.

IGs serve as federal watchdogs within government agencies by investigating agencies and recommending how to improve operations and transparency on issues ranging from cybersecurity to federal hiring practices. For the third consecutive year, the IGs identified in their recommendations over $20 billion in potential taxpayer savings. However, there is currently no standard requirement for how IGs organize and maintain open recommendations on their websites, and the quality of publicly available information varies from agency to agency.

“Each year, our government invests in the important work of inspectors general. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for taxpayers to assess whether a federal agency is listening to inspector general recommendations and making good-faith efforts to correct major issues that could help the federal government work better,” said Heitkamp. “Our bipartisan bill would allow the public to better hold government agencies and their leadership accountable by making sure the work of inspectors general gets the full and public analysis it deserves. That way recommendations are put to good use and tax dollars are used efficiently.”

“Inspectors General play a critical role in the oversight of our federal agencies,” said Ernst. “I am glad to join Senator Heitkamp in this bipartisan effort to make the recommendations made by the Inspectors General more accessible and transparent so we can better combat waste and abuse in our federal agencies.”

Heitkamp has been consistently working with the IG community on ways to implement key elements of this bill to help improve transparency and accountability across the federal government. As members of the Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Subcommittee within the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Heitkamp – the ranking member – and Ernst held a subcommittee hearing on how federal departments and agencies implement recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the offices of inspectors general. Before the launch of this legislation, Heitkamp met with U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz to discuss ways to improve Congressional oversight of his agency’s recommendations.