Inspectors’ General ‘Limitations on Access to Records’
Posted by Larry Doyle on August 13, 2014 9:40 AM |
Information is everything.
Access to information on a timely basis is critical to an agency, an organization, an administration, and a government at large being well run. The sharing of information is often sporadic if the interests of those involved are not properly aligned.
Regrettably for the American public, our interests are not often properly represented and aligned with those atop Capitol Hill — on both sides of the aisle — and those within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. All we need to do is look at the pathetic if not anemic levels of public approval to understand that. Truth be told, though, those within power should not operate based purely on public polls and levels of approval.
Although often times it seems that they do take just that tact.
All this said, we are living through seemingly an unprecedented period when sourcing information is forever breaking new ground. How might we know if the information itself is utilized to truly protect and promote the public interest as opposed to allowing waste, fraud, and abuse to propagate?
The Inspector General Act of 1978 was instituted to keep a proper check on those running our government. Let’s navigate as recently 47 Inspectors General attached their names to a letter expressing real discontent with the manner in which the current administration is operating:
The undersigned federal Inspectors General write regarding the serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work of Inspectors General at the Peace Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice. Each of us strongly supports the principle that an Inspector General must have complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials available to the agency that relate to that Inspector General’s oversight activities, without unreasonable administrative burdens.
The importance of this principle, which was codified by Congress in Section 6(a)(1) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (the IG Act), cannot be overstated. Refusing, restricting, or delaying an Inspector General’s access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.
My recent commentary highlighting the road blocks in place at the SEC that have impeded the ability of its IG to perform would seem to be the rule rather than the exception for this administration.
This dynamic and the subsequent lack of real transparency strike me as problematic and anything but consistent with the principles of a free, open, and democratic society.
But don’t take my word for that just read the opinion expressed by the 47 Inspectors General:
This nation’s 35 years of experience since the IG Act was passed has demonstrated that effective and independent oversight by Inspectors General saves taxpayers money and improves the operations of the federal government.
Do you wonder if those running our government appreciate these principles (saving taxpayer money and improving operations) or if perhaps they have a different agenda?
I wonder that all the time.
I thank the regular reader who brought this IG letter to my attention.
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