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Towns To Lead House Oversight Committee

By Ed O'Keefe

House Democrats tapped Rep. Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-N.Y.) to lead the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday night, following the GOP's selection of Darrell Issa (Calif.) as ranking member earlier in the day.

Rep. Edolphus Towns listens to testimony from former Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae chief executive officers on Tuesday on Capitol Hill. (AP/Susan Walsh)

"I am humbled and honored by my colleagues' support and confidence," Towns said in a statement. "There is a great deal of work to be done to ensure a smooth transition, and I look forward to working with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues in concert with the Obama Administration to ensure the federal government is transparent, responsive and efficient." The statement also said that Towns plans to focus the committee on "constructive oversight of the executive branch and private sector, contracting reform, the rights and duties of federal employees, and voting representation for the District of Columbia."

Anyone who works for the Federal government or is concerned about government waste, fraud and abuse should keep an Eye on this committee. Its mandate to investigate all sorts of questionable actions and wrongdoing can wreak havoc for bureaucrats and often leads to unflattering press attention on certain corners of government.

Towns, a 26-year veteran of the committee, takes over the top spot as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) prepares to lead the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Towns's ascension initially seemed at risk as other Democrats considered challenging him to head the committee. Some questioned his spotty attendance record and the fact that he himself was once the focus of a government investigation. Democratic House leaders reportedly preferred another senior committee member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), for the job. Efforts to push another candidate ended once Towns secured the support of most of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Cummings.

By Paul Volpe  |  December 11, 2008; 10:23 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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Posted by: srmaxhiggins | December 13, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Good luck Congressman Towns. Read my posting on the article about contracting our reforms. You cannot set up contractors to operate like an independent government agency without the same oversights a government agency has i.e. civil audit and criminal oversight. This has caused much of the morass and losses and breakdown of government. The political appointee in an agency should not be limiting criminal investigations by their own Office of Inspector Generals when they receive complaints unless they are 'out of control.' They just need to be allowed to do their job without political infulences. Congressman Shay got this into testimony a few years ago that no criminal investigation can occur or referral for prosecution without the okay of the top political appointee in the agency. For years, I've begged for the original OIG plan to be brought back that bypasses the political head when corruption is 'high level'/ Originally there was a "Corrdinator of OIG's in the Justice department that could help., this is important when ininvestigation involves multiple OIG offices in various agencies that may be working on the same case in isolation and only on the part in their agency. I.e same documents diapearing out of different agencies at about the same time and could be one person committing the felony. (This has occurred on my records) I had to file complaints with each OIG on only the docs disappearing in their agencies, etc. Only one of the multiple agencies filed a report which is a felony not to report according to 3 US attorney's. Just routine audits should be performed at least yearly. Federal Employees have these just to make sure we are doing our jobs correctly and point out retraining needs. Contractors and Agencies used to operate as a "partnership" and they were considered like a 'corporate' employee. So, Good Luck Congressman Towns//

Posted by: LindaJoyAdams | December 15, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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