Issa: ‘No Limit’ to What Oversight Committee Will Investigate
Good government groups and waste, fraud and abuse observers, have no fear: the newly appointed ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says he plans to continue the broad investigatory scope of the panel, in the same spirit as outgoing committee chairmen Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
“I plan to continue the tradition that Henry Waxman did at his best and that was, at his best he expanded to its proper role the jurisdiction of the committee,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said during a conversation with The Eye earlier today. “Government Reform and Oversight has absolutely no limit as to the aspects of our government that it can look into and should look into.”
While Issa is a Republican in a chamber now dominated by Democrats, he’s likely to emerge as a chief critic and watchdog of the Obama administration’s actions, especially since the committee has the power to investigate just about anything. Issa said however that he expects to work in a bipartisan fashion with the committee’s newly appointed chairman Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) “to get some early wins that show that in President Obama’s administration we can work with and for him against the failures of the bureaucracy.”
The California Republican said he's most concerned about streamlining the government’s procurement process and eliminating duplication at government agencies.
“Anyone who has a budget can be a buyer and then they can negotiate with [contractors]” Issa said of the Federal government's agencies and departments. “That’s not how smart organizations that see billions of dollars being spent organize. My committee is the committee that’s supposed to deal with organization and reform.” Eventually Issa would like to see the government act as one customer, instead of several customers, especially when dealing with emerging technologies.
He singled out the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service as an agency he hopes to give early attention in the new Congress. A September New York Times report revealed that staffers at the government agency responsible for the collection of oil and gas royalties had unethical ties to energy industry employees that included sex, drugs and financial kickbacks.
“Over and above the scandals, of which I’m sure we’ll find more, we have an obligation to look at the reforms that could lead to changes in what I call the culture,” he said. “That part of Interior has a culture that seems to figure that it’s OK to socialize with the very people you’re supposed to oversee and then not do anything when you have software that doesn’t even let you know how much they owe you. Issa expect Democrats will also want to investigate the agency further.
The congressman and staff recently relocated to the third floor of the Rayburn House Office Building where they’re still trying to determine how to organize their work space. The walls of the congressman’s office are already adorned however with framed copies of the 37 patents he submitted and earned as founder and head of Direct Electronics. Watch the video above for a quick tour of the new office, including details about the patents and about an old desk and chair that were once part of the old House chamber.
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| December 11, 2008; 3:25 PM ET
Categories: Congress, Oversight
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