Bush signs inspector general reform bill but seeks to limit powers

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush on Tuesday signed a bill [HR 928 text, PDF] designed to further insulate federal inspectors general (IGs) from political interference. The Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 is the latest in a series of amendments to the Inspector General Act of 1978 [text], which created the oversight offices within executive agencies. The new law establishes requirements for qualification and appointment of IGs and limits the conditions of their removal. It provides, in part, that

[e]ach Inspector General shall be appointed without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.
In a signing statement [text], however, Bush formally objected to provisions giving IGs the right to obtain independent counsel and requiring budgetary disclosure of IG requirements as separate submissions, on the grounds that they improperly limit his constitutional authority as the head of the executive branch. AP has more.

Last October, Bush expressed concern [WH policy statement, PDF] about imposing limitations on IG dismissal and about establishing an independent oversight committee because a similar committee had already been established by executive order. Concern about the independence and efficacy of inspectors general has been prompted by recent disclosures of impropriety at the Department of the Interior (DOI) [official website; JURIST news archive], allegations of misconduct by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [WH profile; JURIST news archive] and questionable hiring practices [JURIST report] at the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website].

 

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