Since coming across a CRS report on efforts to strengthen the Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs, and IGs), I’ve been interested in executive oversight structures and the laws that govern them. A section of PublicMarkup.org’s Transparency in Government Act even covers IG report publication. It looks like the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Congress are also intently focused on the issue, as they’ve just passed a second version of a measure to strengthen Inspectors General.
POGO’s blog explains that the Senate just passed S. 2324 (GovTrack, OpenCongress), after, according to POGO,
an amendment offered by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) finally broke through the logjam that had blocked the bill’s passage since last November.
For more background on IG reform, see especially POGO’s February report, Inspectors General: Many Lack Essential Tools for Independence.
Senator Lieberman is among those praising the measure, which still needs to be reconciled with the House version before going to the President.
S. 2324 would amend Title 5 of the US Code, significantly strengthening the independence and effectiveness of oversight by IGs.
Of particular interest to Sunlight is the provision that Inspectors General post copies of IG reports to their Web sites, (as long as they’re subject to FOIA, and therefore not classified or otherwise unfit for publication). The text:
`(b) Requirements for Inspectors General Websites-
`(1) POSTING OF REPORTS AND AUDITS- The Inspector General of each agency shall–
`(A) in accordance with section 552a of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Privacy Act), not later than 3 working days after any report or audit (or portion of any report or audit), that is subject to release under section 552 of that title (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act), is made publicly available, post that report or audit (or portion of that report or audit) on the website of the Office of the Inspector General; and
`(B) ensure that any posted report or audit (or portion of that report or audit) described under subparagraph (A)–
`(i) is easily accessible from a direct link on the homepage of the website of the Office of the Inspector General;
`(ii) includes a summary of the findings of the Inspector General; and
`(iii) is in a format that–
`(I) is searchable and downloadable; and
`(II) facilitates printing by individuals of the public accessing the website.
Public reporting requirements are the stuff of public accountability and trust, and we’re happy to see such a requirement included in the passed version. In order to improve public access, the reports could be centralized (perhaps by the new IG oversight body, the "Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency", and then syndicated, which would let one subscribe to IG reports in the same way one can now subscribe to GAO reports.