Eye Opener: IG Investigations Continue
Happy Wednesday! Investigations into the dismissals of inspectors general continue, as House investigators announced Tuesday they plan to launch a new probe into the firing of the watchdog at the International Trade Commission.
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said his Oversight and Government Reform Committee would suspend its investigation into the firing of Gerald Walpin, the former inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service, since the former watchdog filed suit against the agency last Friday in federal court.
"We have met with White House staff and interviewed staff at the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Democratic and Republican board members, and have reviewed hundreds of pages of documents," Towns said in a statement. "This evidence shows that the Corporation board’s report expressing concerns about Mr. Walpin’s performance was fact-based, unanimous, and nonpartisan." Towns said President Obama had "legitimate reasons for removing Mr. Walpin."
The panel will however look into the firing of Judith Gwynn, who was removed as ITC's inspector general in June. It also continues to investigate the unexpected retirement of Amtrak's inspector general, who left the rail company on the same day he submitted a report about potential interference with his investigations.
“The facts concerning each of the three agencies present unique circumstances. We have found no evidence to connect them, or broader problems with the inspector general system," Towns said.
On the Senate side, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today proposes the creation of an inspector general-in-chief.
"Over 30 years, IGs haven’t always exercised enough independence," Grassley writes today in Politico:
Either they’re not fully committed to the IG mission of rooting out waste and mismanagement or they get intimidated by agency heads who don’t want an aggressive IG snooping around. The lack of IG independence has existed whether Republicans or Democrats control either the White House or Congress. I saw it during the past eight years with the Bush administration, and I see it again today. The question is whether the Obama administration is taking IG damage control to a new and more disturbing level.
The Iowa Republican's office was the first to raise questions about interference with Walpin's investigations, and the incidents at ITC, Amtrak and the Library of Congress.
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• Breaking SBA Lending Logjam: The Treasury Department is finalizing a $15 billion initiative to stimulate lending by the agency by using funds from the federal bailout program to buy up SBA loans.
• Crowded Prisons Endanger Workers, Union Says: The stomach-turning catalogue of violence against federal prison employees, provided by the American Federation of Government Employees, is long, serious and apparently unending. The assaults are sometimes fatal.
• Doubts Slow Financial Regulation Overhaul on Capitol Hill: The administration plans an aggressive effort to rebuild support for the overhaul, including a series of public speeches intended to remind lawmakers why the efforts must move forward.
• Agency Officials: Stimulus Bids Coming in Far Under Estimates: Acting Administrator Paul Prouty said GSA has seen bids 10 percent below what projects were estimated to cost, on average.
• GAO: Pentagon Didn't Break Rules on Propaganda: But the use of military analysts by the administration prompted legitimate questions from members of Congress and the news media about whether defense contractors with commercial ties to the retired officers received favorable treatment in procurement decisions.
• Study: Shortage of Cyber Experts May Hinder Gov't.: The study describes a fragmented federal cyber force, where no one is in charge of overall planning and government agencies are "on their own and sometimes working at cross purposes or in competition with one another."
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