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tv   Hearing on Independence of Inspectors General  CSPAN  October 22, 2021 10:11pm-12:25am EDT

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[inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the committee will come to order. i want to first off thank each of our witnesses for being here today and for your service to our nation each and every day. you have an extremely challenging job to ensure that governmentll is working productively and efficiently for the american people.
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i look forward to hearing to each of you on how this committee can ensure the independence and the integrity of the inspector general is to continue. current federal law and your perspective will be critical in helping us finalize legislation that will provide you and your colleagues with protection to strengthen independent oversight the government effectiveness. this legislation is quite frankly long overdue. for decades inspectors general have acted as independent nonpartisan watchdogs in helping congress prevent another and cover fraud waste and abuse in the federal government and ensuring taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately. the council of inspectors general on integrity and efficiency's recent annual report to congress estimated theyed inspector general save american tax court dacs taxpayers more than $50 million lastra year alone. a federal watchdogs are able to
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work independently and without the threat of political interference. current law allows for law allows for actions that threaten to undefined the independence including the removal of inspectors general from office without sufficient explanation and the employment of partisan clinical operatives to serve in traditional and nonpartisan roles. these actions and others have left inspectors general in their political work vulnerable to political influence and that is simply an acceptable. we want to ensure that no administration is able to undercut the independent transparency and accountability that inspectors general provide to the american people. that's why ranking member portman and i are working together to enact the first knit they can't reforms to support inspectors general in more than 30 years. our bipartisan bicameral effort will get broad support from our colleagues in numerous
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governmental agencies but i'm grateful to senator grassley hassan and chairwoman maloney for helping us. these reforms which will require a more detailed explanation from the president and ensure that acting inspector general's are selected from a pool of senior-level employees within the watch watchdog community and provide federal watchdogs the authority of contractors and former federal officials. do these commonsense solutions of this committee has the opportunity to consider an advanced historic meaningful reforms that strengthen our democracy and promote independent oversight. a call that i know we all share but i look forward to discussing how we can best protect our inspectors general and pass the urgently needed reform.
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the ranking member is then route it will be here shortly. it is thee practice of this committee to swear and witnesses so if you will each rise and raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? you may be seated. our first witness is the inspector general of the national science foundation and chair of the council of inspectors general on integrity and efficiency. in herte role she prevents fraud waste and abuse and improves the integrity of the national science foundation programs and operations and investigates allegations of misconduct. ms. lerner has 30 years of experience initially starting her career in the office of
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inspector general is assisting counsel and in 20 leverages decimated by president obama as a member of the government accountability transparency board. welcome ishe learn him before we hear you're putting comments i'd likee to recognize ranking membr portman for his opening comments. senate thank you mr. chairman. i appreciate your indulgence and thank you for holding this hearing today. inspectors general are essential to government and i think everyone and understands and agrees up that the congress has a responsibility for oversight of the executive branch and responsibility would bere far me difficultyty without the inspecr general. they are incited to agencies and the overseas. since these programs t and budgs and congress's first line of action against waste and abuse. according to the counsel of inspector general on integrity and efficiency and we we'll hear from them today fiscal year 2020
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alone the work resulted in savings totaling $53 billion. that's a lot of waste, fraud and abuse. we take that since a fork and for example i intend to offer an amendment will consider next week to require the appropriate igio on the afghan vetting poliy but this review would include multiple agencies programs and evolving information. they are the best positioned to conduct nonpartisan expert reviews. this committee is responsible for providingg ig independence since 1978 to the congress has approved and reform the inspector general authorities many times and includes legislation to establish a total of 73 igs across the federal government to protect
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whistleblowers. these reforms represent steps in the right direction but we think more work is still needed requested at today's hearings of the committee can discuss this legislation that senator peterson i plan to discuss it next week's business meeting and i appreciate the fact that you accompanied the request for our legislation and a general discussion about the important issue of igs. we have very important members of the ig commission michael horowitz who we all know ig incurred chair alison lerner and amtrak integrity committee chair kevin -- to start the legislation that we are going to be talkinged about her fights much-needed protections for inspector general and dependence. many have fork in this including senator grassley who we noted his work and that i will point out the current law requires 30
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days notice before an ig. it does not increase the time period but it does reserve congressional intent in the interest and understanding of why the ig was removed by requiring the president to provide a substantive rationale for removing and ig. both president obama and president trump had removed igs before congress. i don't think we should be satisfied with such a statement tno matter the party or the president of the legislation occurred during the obama and trump administration that acting igs remained. both president obama and president trump raise questions about the independence of those igs. an agency official cannot conduct independent oversight with his or her own agency in actions. the ig office exposes --
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whistleblowers and provides subpoena authority fried cheese which will allow important witnesses even a person is resigned to avoid participating in investigationon and fourthly that it's been a common occurrence within our system. subpoena authority is a weighty responsibility which is why a fortress senator peters to ensure the bill does provide an effective guardrail. this led the bill in the senate sizes filling ig vacancies. they provide more dependence in continuity. this may i send that letter to presidenten biden urging him to fill 13 vacant ig positions. i'm pleased to see the president has taken our advice seriously and is still the number of vacancies but all the agencies need to be filled. the legislation provides measures to improve oversight for the igs themselves such as
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requiring they reportre to congress on the become aware of a particularly serious problem. all three of these thingsf distinguished witnesses have much to give us today in terms of their input. they understand the need for change and i think each of them for their service and appearing today and i look forward to hearing your testimony. >> thank you ranking member portman. ms. lerner you may proceed with your opening comments. saying thank you. ranking member portman and distinguished members of the committee thank you for inviting me to appear before you today on the counselns of inspectors general on integrity and efficiency. our community has remained focused on its vital mission providing impartial and nonpartisan oversight over transparency and some of the
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most difficult problems facing the agency we have received. altogether as has been noted there've been potential savings equaling $53 billion. for this to continue and expand action is necessary but each congress the legislation committee present the committee's critical reform proposals to strengthen government oversight and resolve challenges that igs face under current law. this session i legislated prior days are strongly focused on enhancing inspector generalal ad dependence and institutional independence and enhancing oversight. today want to highlight some of these initiatives are part of the h.r. 265208 substitute amendment. first ast. i noted its imperatie congress take steps to protect the institutional independence
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of inspectors general. to be effective igs have to be an independent and being independent is no less important for individuals serving as head of an ig. the ig committee urges congress to prevent the appointment of an acting ig that calls into question the independence of the office. currently a present can fill a senate confirmed the ig vacancies withth a political appointee or a senior official from the agency the ig overseas. such appointments which have occurred in both democratic and republican administrations. actual and perceived -- that undermined the igs independent in the conference and its work discourage.g whistleblowers from coming to the ig with evidence of fraud waste and abuse and created disincentive for the president to appoint a permaneno
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ig. the proposed change would have the first assistant of the inspector general served during a vacancy that allows the president to designate another ig or senior ig senior. this reform would provide an acting ig with the independence necessary to maintain the public's trust and widen the pool of professional oversight officials the president may direct to serve as an active ig. this legislation together with a provision requiring -- when and ig is placed on the duties try this will greatly improve ig attendance. we appreciate the guards in the portman substitute amendment. second congress to strengthen oversight to a aig's ig committee has had support from this committee and is long-sought testimonial subpoena authority and essential tool to
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protect -- conduct oversight. because most cannot change potentially critical evidence related to alleged wrongdoing from certain individuals unless they voluntarily agree to be interviewed. the fact that we cannot require these interviews undermine their ability to complete investigations and hold individuals accountable for theirr misconduct thereby diminishing the public's trust in government. what is needed to provide technical assistance to develop controls to ensure effective and appropriate use of authority to want to express her appreciation to chairman peterson ranking member portman as well as senators hassan and working diligently with the ig community on this authority. finally we support any war reports by leveraging public information and resources such as requiring oig
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employees to be informed about the whistleblower rights and protections making the needed change to the integrity committee and replacing the current indirect process with the direct authorization of an appropriation to provide transparency but does not require funding from taxpayers. in closing from taxpayers spreading closing it like to thank all members of the staff and the committee for your strong bipartisan support for our community of the seriousness with which youak take our missi. i look forward to working closely with the wall inspectors general and continued to be empowered to provide the independent nonpartisan oversight agencies to congress and thee american public so richly deserves. this concludes my statement and i'm happy to answer any >> thank you ms. lerner next witness is kevin winters inspector general of the national railroad passenger corporation and integrity committee chair and counsel of inspectors general on integrity
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and efficiency. mr. winters is a welcome experience formerly serving as a senior experience -- office of inspector general from 2005 to 2015 and is nasa's other his staff of special agents investigated of auditors in computer forensic examiners focused on allegations of fraud waste and abuse affecting nasa's programs. mr. winters served in united states marine corps eventually retiring as brigadier general subsequently he held several domestic and overseas assignments including duties as a p prosecutor and the senate counsel. welcome mr. winters and thank you for your service. you may proceed with your opening remarks. >> it thank youu mr. chairman ranking member and thank you for the opportunity to testify about the important work of the integrity committee. i currently serve as amtrak's inspector general and a number of the i.t. community for the
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past 15 years and conclude as you said service at nasa as the inspector general for investigations. in 2019 they have been cigie chair michael horowitz appointed me to be an icy member and in 2020 the ig committee selected mate to serve as chairperson for a two-year term. my testimony will focus on three topics overview.c of the ig -- d our workload making we cannot survive ongoing matters and third are challenges which prevent opportunities for improvement. by law i.d.s have bounding oversight responsibilities for agencies and operations. amtrak for example includes it 24/7 nationwide rail service to 46 states and employs 17,000 people. as an ig in congress there is a
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tremendous oversight research such as an audit to investigate unfettered access to information subpoename power and law enforcement authority. these tremendous powers by the way are capable of igs across the federal ig community. to check this tremendous power congress in my view widely established integrity committee to ensure that senior ig officials currently fortas succeeded them perform those duties with integrity and apply the same standards of accountability to themselves as they apply to the agencies that they audit and investigate. .. inspector general or certain senior members of an i.g.'s office. by statute, the integrity committee is composed of six members. four are serving i.g.'s.
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two are presidentially appointed. the other two are from designated federal entities. there are two other voting members, a senior official from the f.b.i., and the director of the office of government ethics or designee. there is a small cige staff primarily lawyers to assist the integrity committee and the public integrity section of the department of >> the self policing is a solemn responsibility that requiresgl to be nonpartisan with the whistleblowers and witnesses there's always for improvement and then the support staff work diligently to uphold the seriousfi
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responsibility. with 1152 this year 3917. and increasing complexity and severity of the incoming complaints we met 19 times fy 202130 different agencies. we completed three investigations submitted for appropriate action and then initiate for investigations. and then today the ic has nine investigations pending completion. and in service to our country and peace and war i recognized how fortunate we are to have a system of government built on the adherence to the rule of law and checks and g balances which includes independent i
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support hr 2662 i am thankful for your interest in the efforts of the integrity committee to serve as a credible and trusted check on the tremendous powers entrusted to senior members of the ig community i look forward to your questions recognizing we cannot discuss ongoing and open matters. >> the final witness and to have a nationwide workforce of special agents and auditors and inspectors and attorneys and support staff and the mission is to detect and deter waste fraud and abuse. with the organization comprised of all 75 federal inspector general's.
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to be the committee of 22 federal inspectors general to oversee the federal pandemic relatedee emergency spending you may proceed with your opening. >> each year as was noted independent oversight work resulted in billions of dollars of recovery and savings for the taxpayer the bipartisan inspector general empowerment act to further protect the public we serve from waste far fraud and abuse andwo mismanagement. those are important with the jurisdiction with professional misconduct by doj attorneys and those with testimony
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authority. granting my office authority to investigate alleged misconduct has received broad bipartisan support over successive congresses because it promotes independent oversight, transparency and accountability within doj. including department prosecutors and those that does not have you 30 to have all alleged misconduct there is no principle basis in my view for granting office oversight of law-enforcement personnel such as fbi agents while excluding lawyers from the sameme oversight. that would enhance the public confidence in the outcomes of these investigations and provide the oig with the same authority as every other ig.
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the importance of a statutory independent office within doj to oversee allegations off misconduct by doj lawyers was recognized recently by the national association of assistant attorneys in a recent opinion piece on it should be done by my office it has been proposed the head of the department office for professional responsibility become a consent confirmed position we both agree independence is necessary to promote public confidence and investigations congress has always have a statutorily independent that as a demonstrated ability to conduct oversight we employ dozens of attorneys whose backgrounds and experiences are similar which is former prosecutors and apartment modesto private attorneys in
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my attorneys at the department of justice with the pfizer abuse allegations as well as other manners. further the oig would ensure the process for reviewing allegations of misconduct is identical to the oig system currently that exist across the department of justice for non- attorney misconduct allegations the oig has coordinated with law-enforcement components in the disciplinary process is h substantially improved since the oig obtainedd oversight authority in 2002. the same transparency mechanism should apply to doj attorneys and that's why believe the public we will served by adopting this legislative change. let me turn briefly to
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testimonial subpoena which i hstrongly support the absence of such authority hinders our ability to obtain critical evidence from former employees and employees of federal contractors and grant recipients and other nongovernment witnesses of investigations of fraud waste abuse of misconduct recently congress granted this authority for the pandemic responsibilityy committee as it previously had done with the accountability and transparency board 2009. further the dod was granted this authority by congress in 2009 and used it appropriately and sparingly my office has numerous examples of high profile for reviews with lack of such authority to undermine our efforts for example handling the nasser investigation usa gymnastics former president refused a
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follow-up interview after we learned additionalia information about an alleged conflict of interest regarding a former special agent in charge this is to holdd accountable former officials diminishes the public's trust in the government and harms the taxpayers importantly legislation includes several appropriate safeguards which i fully support including allowing the a attorney general to object to the issuance of the subpoena and the ig panel to oversee the issuance of iosuch subpoenas i that committee moves this legislation forward. in conclusion, thank you for your leadership in this committee's leadership to support our oversight efforts i look forward to your questions. >> the inspector general independent clearly is vital to our democracy and congress
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must take every effort to ensure independence is not undermined includes providing oversight when the ig is removed from office. legislation we are working on with the ranking member is the enhanced 30 day notification requirement for the president to provide a detailed reason for removing and ig which gives congress the time to deliberate whether it is appropriate and warranted you mentioned this in your opening comments i love to hear from the other two witnesses. >> we appreciate the proposed amendment and the greater clarity rather than the simple fact president has lost confidence in ig. as you note in particular greater insight makes it much more likely they can conduct
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appropriate oversight wewi hope it prevents situation where ig are removed for purelyy political reasons when it is clear the president has toat articulate a legitimate reason forth that removal it also bolsters the reporting requirements the notice requirements that already exist that relate to removing the inspector general. >> i agree with the assessment. >> the enhanced requirement because the ig positions are different the need for independence allows congress to better understand but most importantly allows the public to understand the reasonswe for removal so they should know the real reason in the actual reason ig was removed.
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>> i will ask the question i want your from the other two witnesses under current federal vacancy.g law nothing prevents a president from appointing acting ag who is not qualified or conflict of interest in the event of a vacancy why is itvi important to limit who can i serve as an acting ag to individuals who already serve the ig community? >> from my perspective, it gets down to independence and confidence of oversight work to take someone from the ig community to serve in that role as a benefit to the nation and the agency rather than someone who comes from a political perspective from their own agency. >> mr. chairman the gao issued
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a report last year and we spoke to the problem of the inherent clear conflict that existed is clearly consistent with the ig act because as you and the ranking member portman indicated to oversee the agency and a senior official whether a political appointee or not there cannot be that level of confidence from the public is truly independent oversight and it creates issues for whistleblowers why would a whistleblower go to an agency to complain about in your officials misconduct if they knew the office was overseen by a senior official who would know their identity and as we have seen the threat of retaliation is with good reason because we have seen that to be retaliated against. >> thehe ig act and the inspectors general without political affiliation based on
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the demonstrated excellence and those disciplines and that is importantnt because ig position to lead independent and objective units focused on the twofold mission for waste fraud and abuse so the purpose of those requirements has completely undermined as the acting ig who was either a political appointee in the agency is asked to run the inspector general's office. >> you cited the oig lack of testimonials upon subpoena authority whyat individuals potentially relevant information to the investigation could ignore questions from the office. youhe cited the nasser example which i am all too familiar with being from the state of michigan. so how does that include the
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work of the instant on —- inspector general quick. >> it is helpful to us in a wide range of our work it is easy to cite example in the high profile cases but it happens very frequently with are not high-profile cases where individuals simply refused to appear and we had occasions where people it resigned a few hours before compelled interview because they want to avoid speaking to us we've had two examples like that the last w couple years the whistleblower cases we had it with fbi a senior official with not speak to us about alleged retaliation and with the contractor where the contractor claim to their employer had ripped off the
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marshall service they tried to speak to the supervisor they left and we could and those of the problems that we face. >> you testify that inspector general oversight can be hampered by the inability to compel the testimony of witnesses who have information that cannot be obtained by any other means. if you agency ig's and have testimonial authority has released as i understand it and has been used judiciously and to have that authority sumeans they rarely have to use it so how do we ensure that is not abused? >> we start by applying the same standards from the documentary subpoenas and we build on that to be issued there are six sets of eyes. three investigators, two attorneys and then me. the focus and attention has added a great deal of value
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there in the 30 years we've never had to subpoena enforce we are not alone but we build on those procedures and add additional controls that are appropriate for that risk associated with authority and then we comply with the additional controls you are considering acquiring the transparency with the use of this authority and then reporting. we are committed too work with you to make sure those protections are in place. >> may i add something? from the perspective where we have oversight with the inspector general personnel this would be a great tool for us as well because like mari horowitz testified we have
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individuals that lead governmentally of the public interest to investigate even after they leave that if they refuse to testify or to answer our calls then investigations are pointless and to the point and how is the tsa checked the committee serves as a check on abuses for testimonies subpoena authority i as well. >> we're in the midst of votes why you see members coming go i have to devote myself i will turn the gavel over to the senatornk to recognize ranking member portman for his qu questions. >> thank you for being here in the testimony you provided is very helpful when that 30 day notice period tona include that so there is some rationale and the american people can
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understand. because this is a power that could be abused there is some discussion of's a sunset i understand if it is very short it would be hard for it to work operationally to get the process up and going but what of a sunset of four or five or six years how do you feel about that? anybody can china and. >> i will start our preference congress always has the ability to revoke the authority granted our concern with theut sunset provision is that it is a blunt instrument the preference would be to have a requirement to have the use of these authorities reviewed by an independent entity like gal and allow the
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results of that to inform congresses decision whether to continue or revoke this authority. if a sunset date is necessary and we understand that is important for some numbers we ask the period be long enough to enable us to have sufficient numbers to make the case for the use of the authorities since in many instances it is enough to ensure an individual's compliance with an interview so we word prefer a ten year period before sunset and that is in no small part because of the amount of time it has taken us to obtain the
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authority in the first place it has taken ten years with congressional support to get this far and we are worried with a hard and fast sunset lose that authority and having great authority. >> even the guardrails we have placed we will have further discussions about that this is an important issue to resolve over the next few weeks it's incredibly important you will have independence we rely on you to conduct the most important investigations in government because we believe you are uniquely qualified to do it. you have the expertise and then on partisanship and ig needs to be beyond reproach. i need to ask question about one investigation of your office this is a sensitive topican but important to talk about today with the
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leadership before us about the investigation former fbi director mr. mccabe he was u fired for lacking can door and arose in 2018 shortly before his retirement late last week doj reverse course settling a lawsuit to restore employment as a a voluntary separation and restore his pension. could you briefly remind us of the findings of your report regarding mr. mccabe? >> certainly, senator. the report concerned an investigation the fbi had initially undertaken with alleged leaks about information that was potentiallyar damaging to secretary clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign the fbi internal investigators developed information that they believed that led them to believe the deputy director may have lied to them.
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then they refer the matter to us in the position he held that the fbi. we assumed the investigation and concluded in a public report that remains on our website that mr. mccabe lied both under oath and not and are oath on several occasions when he denied at various points, certain key facts and information including who was the source of the leak. >> it's my understanding following that report which sounds it was pretty definitive the top career official they both recommended that mr. mccabe be fired is that correct? >> that is correct as to the office professional of responsibility as a career employee acting as a former prosecutor they adjudicate our findings and they agreed with
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us on almost all of us but not all of our findings they made their own independent and that he lied on multiple occasions but did not find everything we found but they consented because the deputy director's position to the attorney general for review with my understanding and then to handle the review and that person recommended removal. >> the seniorto career person found that was appropriate and should be a firing? is that consistent how the office of professional responsibility has handled these cases in the past quick. >> that is myta understanding. >> any report influenced by president.
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>> absolutely none. >> did the settlement change any of the findings in your report? >> we were not a party to the settlement our findings remain on our website we stand by those and by the way the fbi issued a statement stating that they stand by their findings as well and their conclusions. >> so how did this happen and what type of message does this send to fbi agents a former director was not held accountable for misrepresenting facts under oath. >> i think as an ig it is critical individuals be held accountable the matter what level they are at it is particularly incumbent upon us to holdon accountable senior officials the same way we hold accountable less senior officials. >> you view thiss is a double
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standard? >> i cannot speak to the decision of theta department and what evidence they saw with adjudication, so i will not speak to why or how they settled i was not a party to that. but it ised very important for employees to understand that we will hold them at the oag accountable regardless of their position understanding. >> you were appointed by president obama. >> that's correct. >> how important is your independence to make comments like the ones you just made today? >> it central. in other countries people ine my position cannot do that for fear of being me fired or removed or even worse we have an opportunity to meet the
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chair with some delegations from foreign countries and it struck me how many times those officials wanted to know what we did and how we did it because in their country they might get killed if they did the same kind of work we do. >> my time is expired but it goes to the importance of the testimony you are providing today for legislation and the interest in maintaining the independence of the icy in our system of government. thank you. >> senator carper are you available i see fully period chair.
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mr. winters and ms. lerner. i'll just add on the testimonial authority, i think that's critical from the public standpoint in particular. i think it's very hard to be in
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a position where we're being asked to investigate alleged wrongdoing like occurred in, for example, the nasesser matter, and when the public wants to know the at-bats to what happened, we unfortunately often have to give the answer, we're not sure. we don't know. because the employee has left, quit, the contractor who has allegedly retaliated won't talk to us. that leaves significant dissatisfaction and creates a question for the public about the value of our work if we can't answer the most basic questions because we can be the get the evidence we need. senator carper: madam chair -- i'm not sure who is chairing right now. senator hasan: i'm chairing. thank you. senator portman: i have one more question, if i could take 20
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seconds. 14 inspector general positions remain vacant. president biden has nominated eight. could you take some time to discuss ways to incentivize qualified individuals to act as i.g.'s and what are the traits of an effective inspector general. ms. lerner: i couldn't hear the question. senator port map: could i suggest you submit that for the record. senator carper: that's what i asked to do. senator portman: oh, you're just submitting that for the record, you don't want them to answer? ok. # senator johnson, you are ready. senator johnson if you're ready i'll recognize you for your round of questions.
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senator johnson: appreciate that. welcome, everyone. thanks to your -- thanks for your service. inspector general horowitz, we've had this conversation before where i made the analogy to independent auditors appointed by the board, oftentimes by the c.e.o., and they are meant to provide information to the board of directors who report to the shareholders. is everything on the up and up in the corporation? so i kind of like at inspector generals the exact same way. when i hear independent, you know, i'm just asking a question, independent of who? who should inspector generals be independent of? mr. horowitz: we have had this discussion. i appreciate it. as you know from our discussion in private practice i represented and worked with audit committees and independent auditors. i think the answer on that is,
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independent of the agency leadership from being able to take personnel action against them. that's the system congress set up. i'm going to talk about presidentially appointed, senate-cop firmed i.g.'s like my position. the setup congress created was to allow me to operate without fear that the agency leadership can respond in a personnel action against me. i can, of course, be removed at will by the president. and that's entirely appropriate. and none of this legislation changes that. senator johnson: so it's independent of the agencies but inspector generals report to the president. they serve at his pleasure, correct? mr. horowitz: that's correct. senator johnson: unfortunately, over the years, and i've experienced this firsthand as chairman of the committee, trying to undertake investigations, issuing subpoenas, for example, to the f.b.i., that were largely
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ignored, slow walked, congressional oversight has been dramatically weakened because we have no enforcement mechanisms. so it seems like we've outsourced our oversight, the people's oversight, the people's direct oversight into these agencies to inspector generals. i am concerned that inspector generals when they take a look at that independent moniker, they're thinking that's independent of everybody. the president of the united states is held accountable to the voters. if he dismisses and inspector general, the voters will hold the president accountable. so i am concerned about the thrust of, you know, all the requirements imposed by congress, again, we relied on inspector generals. i appreciate the work. i've also worked with inspector generals to try to -- that were corrupt and had to leave. ok. and i think our witnesses are aware of that as well. the inspections they're strog do
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on inspector generals. i think this is important to keep in mind, that it's the president, the inspector general's report to the president. they don't report to congress. we use them but my solution would be to beef up, reclaim congressional oversight power which we have allowed to lapse and we've outsourced that to the inspector general. do you understand that assessment? not necessarily agree or disagree but understand where i'm coming from in. mr. horowitz: i understand the concern you outline about what the congressional oversight responsibilities are and how they've been executed. i'll just say, this legislation changes nothing about the president's ability to remove and i.g. there is no for-cause provision here. there's none of that. and to your point, as sigi chair, one of the things and allison has continued this, i know, as chair. i talk about all the time not only with my folks at d.o.j. but
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other i.g.'s, we're not free-range actor, i agree with you. we're in a constitutional system. we follow the i.g. act and follow the law. what i think the legislation does though, particularly the vacancies act, it doesn't limit the president's ability to remove. the president can remove -- senator johnson: it just puts reporting requirements on them. i've got some other issues. so one example, i think a glaring example in terms of the weakening of congressional oversight is, for example, under foreign requests, over 4,000 of dr. fauci's emails were provided to an outside group. now congress is not subject to the redactions of that information that again they were forced to give to an outside group. we asked for those, five of us, on this committee, using a law that says you shall turn over
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the information. we didn't ask for new documents, we asked for them unredacted. we haven't gotten them unredactd. we're getting them in dribs and drabs, couple of pages at a time, in camera i do want to before i run out of time because i haven't been able to talk to you about this. since i was chair and since you issued your report. in your fisa report you talked about how, and this is in the main body of the report, how bill presap told you that the f.b.i. didn't have any indication whatsoever by may, 2017 that russians were running a disinformation campaign to steal election reporting. that was in your fisa report. mr. horowitz: i don't have it in front of me but i trust your -- senator johnson: it was. it took us months and a battle to unredact, to unredakota
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footnotes that were completely contrary to that. you're aware of that. the question i have for you is i see nothing in the footnotes that should have been classified or subject to redaction. why were those redacted? mr. horowitz: i'd have to go back and look at specific footnotes but we send it to the f.b.i. and the justice department leadership and they ultimately make the call and i am -- i'm not going to put out information they say is classified. senator johnson: what i was trying to point out is this was further coverup by the f.b.i. and department of justice wanting to make sure that they -- it wasn't in the public domain very early on. they knew that people -- the steele dossier had contacts with russian sources. they knew this in january, 2016,
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and yet the f.b.i. and the mueller investigation continued to plod forward and put this country through the political turmoil of the mueller investigation even though they knew the source document that prompted the investigation, the corrupt investigation, was very likely a product or certainly part of a product of russian disinformation. that's an accurate assessment, isn't it in mr. horowitz: i'll just add, there are many reasons why, as we detail in the report, there should have been greater followup and skepticism about reporting. senator johnson: every step of the way in my investigation i was frustrated by members of the committee, by fib director wray that did not comply with my subpoenas, as a result the american public was kept in the dark. about this.
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i think, my final point is, congressional oversight capability must be beefed up. as important as i.g. reforms are and making sure that you can operate independently, and uncover corruption within agencies to report to the president, congress needs the oversight ability to report to the american public. mr. horowitz: can i just address the senator's point sni do think it's relevant to today's discussion as well because as many of the members know who were here over the last 10 years, certainly in my first few years, senator johnson shared, i think, some of these hearings, where we talked about my inability to get records. and at the time, just to be clear, one of the areas that was offlimits to me supposedly was fisa records back in the day as you'll recall. the only reason that changed is because this committee, senator grass lee, and the house moved
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the i.g. empowerment act legislation in 2016 that overturned the f.b.i.'s position and gave us access to that. if we didn't have access to the records you wouldn't even have had our 600-page report because i couldn't vo done it. that's why the reforms here are so important. senator peters: thank you. i want to thank you and -- senator hasan. senator hasan: thank you. i want to thank you. i am very grateful to you and your families for the services you provide. this improves the delivery of critical services to me the american people. i want to start with a question to you, inspector general lerner, and i'd really like to follow up on the need for the
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testimonial subpoena authority. for more than 40 years, inspectors general have been able to issue subpoenas to compel the production of documents to advance their oversight work. earlier this year i introduced the inspector general testimonial authority act with senator grassley to suspend the authority and allow the i.t. community to compel in-person testimony from those who refuse to cooperate with investigations. inspect general lerner how do inspectors general use the documentary subpoena authority and how would having the testimonial subpoena authority build on the existing authority? ms. lerner: first off, thank you very much for your and senator grassley's support for testimonial subpoena authority. in terms of how i.g.'s use documentary subpoena authority i think they've used it very successfully over the -- over 40 years that we've had that authority.
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as i indicated earlier, most i.g.'s have a strong process built around ensuring the appropriateness of the subpoenas being put out, ensuring that they are within the jurisdiction of the office and that they are not overly broad or unduly burdensome. we take -- we know in asking people to provide us documents that is a burden on them but you know, it needs to be outweighed by the benefit coming in. and i think we as court cases have shown, in situations where i.g.'s have issued subpoenas, there have been very, very few cases where i.g. subpoena has not been upheld. i can think of one and that was a situation where the subpoena was not related to a matter within the i.g.'s jurisdiction. but so i think we've got an outstandingly strong process of appropriately using our documentary subpoena and we'll build on that and ensure that we
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appropriately handle testimonial subpoena. senator hassan: you've got a system in place and can use those restreus oversee the documentary subpoena process so it won't be abused? ms. lerner: yes. it has a greater impact on people. senator hassan: you referenced it a bit but if concerns are raised about an i.g.'s use of the documentary subpoena authority how are those concerned addressed? ms. lerner: there are a couple of different avenues. if there's any question of, you know, political or partisan or problematic reasons behind a subpoena, that's a matter that could go to sigi's integrity committee but i also imagine >> to examine the use of this
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by inspectors general to have appropriate procedures in place and factor that into the ultimate assessment that happens periodically of all ig investigative operations. >> briefly we have to get to a bunch of others. >> the mechanism is somebody reese receives that standard that is improper they can go to court. >> we cannot enforce that we have to go to court. >> i appreciate that. i went to go a little deeper on something that you mentioned and i will ask inspector general horowitz to reply to this. it's important to knows my —- to note the superior on —- the inspector general had the subpoena authority for a decade so you did mention in
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your testimony that department of defense use its testimonial subpoena authority sparingly issuing only three subpoenas since it received the authority in 2009. how can the dod ig use this as a model for how others use in a judicious and thoughtful way quick. >> it is veryit important to use as a model because it works so well. and what i would expect to happen is happened is sense before and ig signs a subpoena for testimony, they engage counsel or the witness themselves to understand what the concerns are if there are any issues or problems with testimony. frankly we do that now in a voluntary arena. voluntarily we have those discussions. and what i understand from the defense department ig is they have been able to reach
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accommodations with witnesses that avoided the issue and to define the parameters of the acceptable interviews. >> andr you mentioned it earlier that your integrity committee can prevent abuse of that testimony. >> abuse of authority is r squarely within our jurisdiction around. >> into the inspector general i appreciated your testimony regarding my work with the semiannual reports to congress they are to streamline ends grsimplify this to congress and the public to place greater emphasis on the response to ig recommendations to move out waste fraud and abuse how with these healthy inspector general community? are you confident that agencies in congress will still receive the important oversight information these reports are intended to
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provide quick. >> i am absolutely confident that these reforms would not interfere with that transparency that congress deserves from inspectors general. in the 40 years, the ig's have made tremendous gains and being transparent they would allow us to more efficiently the semiannual report and thatpo will ensure the most important matters are most clearly visible and transparent and the time and energy we use to put into things of lesser interest can be redirected and produce better outcomes for the people who depend on our work. >> thank you for your work.
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>> senator lankford. >> thank youfo all for your work it is very much appreciated we encourage you to stay on it. inspectors general makes recommendations to bring up ideas of greater efficiency so those that lean into an agency to develop those relationships and proposing ideas helps us all there is an expectation of that work and that me tell you to lean and we need you working well and we have a whole litany of issues and to address we have got are several things but what i hear most from people so why does it seem like no one is held to account? we all know thatt isn't correct some people are but it becomes a very big deal with somebody like andrew mccabe that you
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found researched and that he clearly lied and fired by the department of justice and now has been addedl back in with his pension recovered and backpay is paid with the real sense to say this person lied and there seems to be no consequence so what can we do to bring you testimonial authority to get these things in recommendations is a great benefit to restore trust and then to drill down on a couple of these. you have been through the cross jurisdiction in the state department issue where the overall department of justice and then to make this harder. and those for multiple jurisdictions from other agencies. and then to get that
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testimonial evidence. >> it is very hard. i would reach out to the state ig andmu they would facilitate my being able to speak to that person much as i do when people call meat once the employee is gone they are gone. i have no authority over them the state department doesn't. but the defense department ig does. but obviously i don't cross over into that realm. >> the subpoena power is essential for the ongoing work and then it becomes the issue that they retire with benefits everybody knows there is activity of fraud and abuse some of those whistleblowers have called out. >> howwi do you explain to the complainants that says i was sexually assaulted or retaliated as a whistleblower and money was stolen and you are doing nothing? the answer is we need the
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evidence. >> we need to get that to you clearly and it is handled judiciously and that can work and then whole people to account you did a very thorough investigation that what you have been excluded from you are just looking to see if the standards that have been set for the pfizer application process followed you found 400 instances of noncompliance with the procedures and then it got worse. then you went drop applications authorized in the last five years there were 179 that was listed for your document that was missing or destroyed or incomplete. i want to drill down.
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missing and incomplete is one thing destroyed is malicious said you have evidence these were destroyed quick. have evidence some of the files were destroyed but the problem was the fbi even though they put in this requirement did not give any guidance what youle should do with it afterwards they went in and found a stack of documents in a corner and we were told thatt is what comprise the file. you cannot have an effective procedure to find out it is accurate but then make sure it's not being followed. >> you make ten recommendations to the five of them are those five that have not do youou have an update quick. >> they have toldus us they are
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following through and through the regular process inn 60 or 90 days and we will continue to update. with those national security reports for years and years that's what it means to have independent oversight. >> the allegations that come to the inspector general from the whistleblower sometimes they are factual sometimes they are not sometimes it is just harassment to find an effective way to harass individuals and keep them tied up into investigations. so then c if they have merit in the beginning i call it a mini grand jury. and then to make a decision so can you walk me through that process? sometimes it is a legitimate investigation sometimes it iss harassment.
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>> every inspector general faces with the integrity committee with the weaponization of complaints from we have a process especially in a pandemic a lot of complaints is this a valid complaint was some form of complaint that is actionable? and whether or not there is a person that is covered at a senior level for a complaint that comes in like nasa or amtrak we have a specific section that has a process that talks about the facts versus the criteria. >> so with the subpoena power to make sure they cannot just retire to avoid any type of
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pursuit. but who was the chain of secession if we have the acting inspector general we speak frequently of how to get more inspectors general and that they just don't appoint them they leave it open for a long time then becomes an issue. this is a gap i don't know enough about because a never want the inspectors general office to be used as a weapon against somebody unjustly. and in their personal capacity to higher their own personal attorney in the process and someone that is mad at them for a decision that they made choosing to weaponize the process becomes highly destructive and discourages people to step into government if there is a federal employee to weaponize the process. >> i agree. as an inspector general i took
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my first oath august 1972 to support and defend the constitution. what that means is not a partisan narratives that we are very sensitive to those types of complaints to follow the law and the facts with those particular i complaints. >> thank you for your contributions to the legislation. this is difficult to navigate a very important. thank you for your help. >> thank you to the inspectors general for your service so we appreciate the discussion we also went to drill down on a
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couplent of areas that you have identified asd possible targets for legislation or change your practice and the executive branch mr. horowitz thank you for your collaboration and communication with my office at the bipartisan legislation to reform the security camera systems and then that legislation passed the senate last night you also made recommendations with respect to single cell confinement of people with mental illness in recommendations with respect to pharmaceutical purchases outside medical care can you briefly outline those recommendations to the committee?d >> also it passed last night thinking of and have potentially impact on the prison camera system.
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so with regard to single cell enof inmates, we identified significant concerns how it impacted individuals mental health the policies with how to compete with inmates that were disruptive it involved individuals that were disruptive and then that is something the op says it does not like to do it does not put individuals in solitary confinement yet we identified numerous instances that occurred. and as i sit here today senator i doo know the status of those but i can follow up with you but on the pharmaceutical side on the cost side we issued a number of reports identifying how
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they have not taken the steps they could take to reduce some of the cost so it could save money in various areas it is spending so what we found is there are four agencies that is the big four pricing which is favorable pricing and but even though it has one of the largest healthcare systems to take care of the 150,000 federal inmates, doesn't get the preferred pricing so we made a recommendation to the department to seek legislation to obtain a favorable pricing. >> and with that testimonial subpoena power and the ability
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to compel testimony from personnel that retire in advance of anve investigation can you comment and for those amidst investigation and how that can interrupt or terminate the investigative process and the implications for their personnel records within thet federal agencies. >> we have been very concerned about for years and we issued a report a few weeks ago concerning specifically how the fbi was handling adjudications of employees who retired or resigned during the course of the investigation. the way the process goes we investigate for the fbi investigates complaints the work and sends it to the responsibility for adjudication.
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>> what we found is the fbi regularly with limited exceptionsns closes the adjudication if the employee resigns or retires. we found in 2018 that that occurred in more than 10 percent of the cases. because in many instances employees resign or retire and then get hired as contractors or go to another government agency to state or local law enforcement. that with the entire federal government when individuals leave you have engaged inhe wrongdoing or misconduct that those matters are adjudicated and the findings are included tin the personnel files and i
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will add it's also important in the case where they are found not to have committed misconduct because byy the way more than 10 percent of those cases in some of them the oag found individual did not w engage in misconduct because the matter was not adjudicated. >> thein bipartisan infrastructure legislation from earlier this year included some significant investment in passenger rail i'm a strong advocate for expanding capacity in those states in the southeast that connect atlanta charlotte and other options in the suburban and urban communities across the state of georgia. you made alarming observations with respect to the cybersecurity of the amtrak
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train control system can you detail those observations and recommendations for the committee? >> in this public setting i cannot go into a lot of detail, senator. so amtrak is not alone with the challenges of cybersecurity those systems are critical to the safety of passenger rail and the office conducts aggressive oversight in the space. >> thank you my staff will reach out for at classified foreign thank you again for your service and diligent work and i yield back. >> senator scott? >> thank you for hosting this
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hearing thank you to each of you for doing what you do ihe appreciate the ig because the oversight function of this committee is important. i'm not sure if everybody liked to the audit but we knew exactly what was going on one of the questions i have is how important is thehe subpoena power? is it necessary? and if each of you could address where the ig investigation and then to compel a person. >> it to see you senator. >> i am appreciative. >> and as you all know the state of florida has the
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largest ig system in the country and a very impressive one. >> they are really helpful if you are the governor. >> and it has been very helpful to us on the federal level with subpoena authority i can highlight high profile matters like the nasser investigation with usa gymnastics president refused a second interview with us to ask about allegations with the special agent in charge of there is a conflict of interest in what the pfizer review and those who had relevant information and i could go back to fast and furious when they wouldn't speak to us but it is in the routine day today that don't get those kinds of attention
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we do all the time like whistleblower retaliation. it happens there and i cannot talk to them also with contractors of the alleged stolenoi money. and then precisely because of that concern and then to see allegations but if we cannot subpoena nongovernment employees with no ability even if they work with a contractor i can compel the doj employee and then it's even harder to get that person to speak with us. >> i have no authority. >> and the information and the
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allegation. are there times i can confirm that there other mechanisms but in several of our investigations like the pfizer one facebook site voluntarily but they waited until very late so even in those instances when you see that we heard from people it can take a lot of time to get them to speak to us. has built intee place protections there shouldng be safe cards we have the three ig's we have to review this we have to give it scrutiny unless we put a lot of oversight and looking into it and it is a critical tool for us and frankly for the
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public they want to know what urhappened not that somebody stiffed us and we cannot figure it out but this is what happened but now we can get the evidence. >> one thing i have learned under investigation and now with the integrity committee we carefully decide whether or not to investigate. there is a reason we're doing that it's not a win there is a real public interest to find out truth and how frustrating it was and now the integrity committee we cannot get to the truth because we don't have the tools to do that. >> i just want to underscore what kevin said it's one of the most frustrating things for mye investigative staff if
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we have an allegation once to look at small business that is allegedly defrauded. we were told by one of the employees that ended the voluntary cooperation from all the people as a recipient so we had the documentary evidence but we were not able to engage with the people to give greater insights. it is extremely demoralizing so there are so many benefits and some are internal. >> other safeguards quick. >> i think the safeguards that you added are very important. that is a legitimate concern. >> if there is going to be the ig panel they have to approve these personally come in the
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integrity committee and these are not self enforcing subpoenas and then to convince the justice department with the civil division to send the subpoenaed and that is more yet to convince more ig's and then they have to convince a judge so itm do think that is the case so i will just add that the defense department had disability for 12 years with a handful of cases to my understanding have not lost the case that way so as the chair we are missing
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$5 trillion and you gave it previously to the recovery act in 2009 and in and those instances hasn't been abused so that track record as wellis talk about the sunset issue earlier, i think that track record with those protectionsio on top of concerns should hopefully give comfort to people this will be usedn appropriately also notifying the attorney general. >> we all know what's at stake it iss taking us ten years if we are lucky to get the authority and we know you said scrutinized and we will be hyper focused on ensuring to stay on the right side of the law. >> thank you.
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you are recognized for your questions. >> thank you mr. chairman. also thank you to each of the witnesses for your testimony as they have w recognized to associate myself the inspector general played a key role in the democracy and objectively for waste fraud and abuse and also in the hearing to pass the inspector general act for athe executive branch congress and the public can of relied on the work of the inspectors general to speak truth to power and i recent years they have included shedding light on the main treatment of immigrants including children and federal detention centers
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and the shortcoming of the dmpandemic response however the administrations have exploited gaps with the affixes on —- advocacy of the inspectors general and i appreciate them calling attention to the issue and grasps the authority for the testimony most lack the authority to compel testimony from certain categories including contractors and formermp federal employees. so you have numerous investigation the lack of subpoena power to temper your work can you reference the investigation regarding the former administration family separation policy that resulted in your report so
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using that as a great example how the testimonial subpoena power aided your investigation of the family t separation policy. >> thank you senator. that is one of the reviews we have done with the investigations with our ability to have this authority. it is fair for us as ig's looking at a policy implementation to speak to those who are responsible for the policy. in that particular case it was announced by attorney general session we got broad cooperation from employees at thee department and if i recall correctly some who are no longer at the department but we cannot get testimony from the former attorney general sessions and our ability to do
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that meant there were certain items or issues or discussions he was a part of to get the recollection of events there were a few notes of some of those meetings so the inability to do it diminished to fully assess what it occurred. >> so on the flipside those that say any subpoena power can alsoo be abused so do you think that legislation has the adequate checks to ensure the authority is not misused? >> certainly i think that requiring the notification of the attorney general to utilize the id panel this is
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above and beyond what we ordinarily do to build on a strong foundation that we have in place for the use of documentariesg, subpoenas. by adding these additional requirements ofne consultation process and the approval of the stepped up reporting requirements the evidence will be there that will clearly incentivize everyone not that i think that incentive is necessary but all of us as ig's recognize the stakes if we are committed to exercising it wisely so we appreciate your interest in common sense controls to help ensure it is not misused. >> i agree that those are adequate and that is another check and abusingor that
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authority. >> i appreciate that. one more question but i will tf the question so to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture we would all agree that critical infrastructure has a significant push that the agencies have the resources and information they need to effectively guard their systems those that come by with the cybersecurity requirements so what role do inspectors general clay to enhance the cybersecurity of federal agencies and the reforms that have been discussed today how does that strengthen network? >> most inspectors general are
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required to conduct the audits of the system security under the federal modernization act. so to have our eyes examining they' agencies systems in accordance with criteria that is laid out with the department of homeland security and then the standards and there's a great deal of value that comes from that with the strength of individual agencies information systems.
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there is a separate committee called the tech committee with critical infrastructure and it requirements. >> . >> thank you. >> you are recognized for your questions. >> chair peters this really does have some great bipartisan work and i'm grateful to both of you to have the opportunity to have this discussion we all know how the inspectorto general's function it is fundamentally it is a good government issue ig makes them that they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars having independent
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watchdogs in place to see and missed learners testimony the work at the ig and the staff generated potential taxpayer savings of $53 billion fy 2020 a 17-dollar return ones every investment in the office of the inspector general i will ask more about that and the moment. thank you for your serious attention to this issue with transparency and accountability not only just in nevada but across the country. so ass i mentioned it's interesting to read your testimony about the taxpayer savings generating can you tell us more as a result of
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the ig offices? >> certainly they all report to congress and the work of the audit is included in this report for the outcomes of audits and inspections for those that are questioned with the dubious expenditure and the funds that are put to better use. and when it comes to the investigative work for example the fines and penalties that come from criminal cases and those potentially and that can be returned to the government they go to the agency and the
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rest go to the treasury and quantifiable returns to the government. >> i can tell you a lot of people watching today and the questions are how are we spending people's money and they are worried we are wasting it so that wasteful spending and other inefficiencies how can congress help to prevent this? >> so speaking from my own agencies experience in the large grantmaking agencies to refine grant recipients take the many and then those
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instances when they propose the research and funded by nsf but they actually have done that search already and will take the money and use it for other purposes. and then to work with prosecutors to hold those people to account for government funding. and then they don't rise to the level of criminal or civil wrongdoing for people who have misunderstood and with the funding they are receiving and in question after an audit process. and then to reside within the agency to ensure that people who receive funding understand
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the obligation and what is expected of them to manage the money but i would be happy to get back with more concrete ideas if there are mechanisms for congress as well in that process . . . .
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i think one of the best things we can do is ensure that people for my daughter's age, i have a daughter in college and oneni in moscow, they understand opportunities available the oversight committee see us as viable career paths. we have many people are going to age out of leadership rolls in regard to ensure we have a new generation coming forward willing to engage with us and doing a better job on our part getting the word out about our mission will help us there. we also have a great panel that supports both the president andg agency heads to fill id
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positions. they look at the experience obviously in the statute, there are certain disciplines related types of ecstasies ids are supposed to have but you want to note someone interested in being ig understand how hard it can be to be independent, how difficult it can be to sit at the top of an organization where you are at a distance of your own agency committed to engaging with congress and you need to be responsive and respectful to both of those despite reporting obligations need to maintain their own integrity and do your work the way appropriate within the ig act so we ask a lot of questions around that, people interested in being ig's as well. >> i see my time is up. same question for the record hopefully we can build a good pipeline of qualified caring
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people to do this very important job in the united states and our government. >> thank you. i know you had some closing questions. >> thank you very much, i won't take the full-time, i just want to say i think it's been a terrific hearing and exchange of views and it m seems to me of al the issues we've touched on, probably the one with the most potential controversy is testimonial subpoenas. i appreciate your initial response to myue question sent o determine peter's question on that. it's important to lay out the guardrails are because we talked about guardrails getting into detail and i do think there are safeguards here included in our bill that are effective because i do think it's an enormous responsibility ig's would take on subpoena people after they leave. number one, attorney general would review a subpoena going out would be able in my case to understand to provide
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information with other investigations might be ongoingn the information could behi considered by the panel, a panel of ig's from three senate ig's would have to approve it. it only be available for audit evaluation inspections and investigations the iq is undertaking. being asked to issue standards which they have done before in other areas, consistent with standards laid out before including reasonably related and fifth, a congressional reporting requirement. please report to congress since report prior to the t issue buts to let us know going on to talk about thatt earlier this may bea potential way for congress to be able to understand without
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having a sunset put into the legislation. finally, earlier this morning people have access to the courtt in regard to these subpoenas so i think our bill is foulest, is a good way to enjoy independent and ids but also investigations can continue. >> thank you and i agree and look forward to moving it forward. >> i just? >> absolutely. >> i want to expand on the aging review and justice departmenticg and how under four different, five different attorneys general, that's happening even though it's not a veto for example. i should note we as ig's and law enforcement responsibility and investigative responsibilities more regularly with the justice department prosecutors and leadership.
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the fact that the attorney general would come into one of the ig's subpoena essay if the issue subpoena with an ongoing criminal investigation, a rare instance but the former might be, i can't imagine a scenario where we wouldn't say we are not looking to interfere with anything you are doing so i think that's a very important process and i appreciate you mentioning that because it's of great significance. >> in care. the recognize for your question. >> thanks for waiting for me and think each of the witnesses for being here today, it's good to see all of you. are you familiar with the report from wilmer hale independentio investigation regarding
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allegations of misconduct by three dhs employees regarding the nomination. >> i am aware of the report. have you read it? >> very heavily redactedd version. >> my office has been contacted by multiple whistleblowers who allege right conduct including i'm afraid, he'll and i want to give you the chance to respond, we always take the complaints seriously and make pointed me to the wilmer hale report which i have to say is very disturbing. those who don't know, it's 108 pages hear from 70 interviews conducted, 42000 doctors reviewed and what was found is m member of dhs employees probably interfering in presidential nomination and senate confirmation process regarding doctor to be the ig at dhs. at the outset of the investigation or the report that any citizen has the right to question presidentialia nominatn
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and their capacity federal employees and their capacity of private citizens have a first amendment right to express their political opinion and make contact to do so, of course that's very important. it's misuse of authority for federal employee to use hislo or her public office to interfere with presidential nomination for senate confirmation process and they say federal employees should not use that government resources including e-mail system or access to monikers or other government officials for personal gain any other unauthorized purposes. r there's a further report in the investigation of these individuals opposed to the nomination when it came to you to discuss the nomination, the right to have a sensitive manner related to the dhs ig nomination to discuss. you all agree to speak on the phone and following the conversation of the complaint, you, a link to report regarding
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california coastal university, i guess the complaint here phd. from a suitably fit university. during the interview, he spoke to ms. learn about the nominationom thinking of doing o because of your best interests of the agency. ms. lerner agreed have the obligation to protect the organization figure out whether others decree was issued by a diploma. encouraged, he were on government property using government resources on government time, you encouraged interference with presidential nomination process and senate confirmation process in a pretty serious misuse of government resources. i know you can sit for an interview, he would sit for an interview but we have you here, these are serious allegations, i
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thought i woulde give you a chance to respond. >> i appreciate you giving me the chance -->> >> make sure your mic is on. >> sorry, appreciate you giving me the opportunity most i could say right now is the statement of the conversation not consistent with my recollection. >> so you deny encouraged them to spread around plaintiff using government resources that doctor was unqualified, his degree was issued by diploma mill? >> senator, may i jump in. >> i like an answer to my question. >> i did not encourage -- take the action described in the statement made. >> did you improperly use government resources to interfere with the nomination process? >> i did not. >> did you use any government
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resources, government property, did you work on this project in government time? >> in my capacity as vice chair, and michael could speak to this as well in his capacity as care, we frequently qualifiedou individuals working in the office who had questions or concerns they thought we could shed light on and we were never to help answer those questions so we take calls from people who have a concern try to steer theo in the right direction and that's all ihe did with these individuals and i think that's consistent with our obligation as leaders and at no time was i trying to undermine nomination of anyone for that position.
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>> why didn't they open an.a investigation into these allegations? why wasn't an outside investigation that found evidence of wrongdoing? >> questions directed to the integrity omitted because -- >> it was part of your decision, wasn't it. >> i am not a member of the integrity committee and the leadership purposely is separate from the integrity committee to preserve independent conduct investigations. >> so when the report says it's misuse of authority for federald employee to use his or her office to interfere with confirmation process in federal employee should not use the government resources including e-mail systems for access to monikers or other government officials for any unauthorized purpose from usa for the record under oath, you did not do any of.
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>> i did not undermine anyone's nomination. >> you didn't use the e-mail system, access to monikers or any other primary resources for unauthorized purposes. >> i used the e-mail systems to respond to questions from individuals about situation in their office and attempt to steer them in the right direction and provide guidance to them as they confronted a challenge, in my view, that is not inconsistent with my obligation to the public. >> i amio disappointed we are he and fists brickley has prompted us, we have this report is quite expensive and lengthy, he didn't sit for an interview with them, they weren't able to get your views on any of it. i frankly think it's disappointing and i think the
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fact that we now have multiple whistleblowers coming to us about this series of events, this is harley reading the artist and its disturbing that this would be happening and i want to say i'm going to try to get to the bottom of it but i am disappointed come to this in this setting. >> i appreciate your concern but i would say to harlots and i engaged with people on both sides of that situation had concerns in onene is to protect the privacy of both entities we were involving the people would feel comfortable coming to us counseling in situations like that. >> let me respond to that serious issues, go are you stupid work in the ig, was an agent, i talked with joe both while his confirmation was pending and after he became ig.
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you can explain to you however much you would like, i'd be happy for him to do that, how much time i spent with him on several of those calls to help him as he ig get settled in deal challenges wase dealing with. in terms of fact, i talked to him as he can describe to you if you would like, maybe even in aythat report when he wanted to move forward decided to move forward with the allegations how to deal withns them prior to the reach out to us to meet in particular, we engaged with the lawyers and asked them to give us an idea of what they were peak to us about as indicated. as chair and vice chair, i
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regularly receive calls from ig's, from others in the ig community to give advice and guidance how they can proceed from someso horse routine career advice, something was far more significant and the question i had was what information generally in the areas they were looking at you have the obligation to ensure that discussions we have are maintained in confidence from the individual comes to us like them to be incompetent. t assess whether there is a need for the investigators to have that information. to understand a little bit moree because i sit down for chair the ask about a variety of conversations when people come to meet i see it as the ig act
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provisions in the law that as d.o.j. -- reported this way, the rj individuals who come to me, is a provision that requires so got to think long and hard about that with a decision on what to speak to. i never ruled out but the question was until the end, until there was an unwillingness to have thatn, discussion, but that was my concern, we didn't have a dialogue and i wasn't comfortable at the time knowing what i was to speak to because frankly, i didn't have firsthand knowledge of a lot of white ultimately ended up reading about in the report the time they reached out to me. >> my time is long expired here i'll have additional follow-up questions for you for the record ri can't adjudicate your dispute
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as to why he did or didn't sit with an interview, for a fact they said you had relevant information in particular you, space bar have information about the discussion, he didn't sit for an b interview, that is your prerogative but the fact is, this is serious, he's our very serious, i hope this is not normal, a short as heck shouldn't be and we got more work to do to get answers. >> i am happy to meet with you talk to you in person. >> did you have anything to add? >> the recollection of the back and forth with the council is accurate i share his willingness to engage more on this. >> thank you. >> i want to thank again are witnesses for joining us here today and for our committee members engaging in this.
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we have the opportunity for us to advance some of the most significant reforms to strengthen independent inspector general oversight in a decade from legislation senate apartment and i have been working on strong bipartisan and bicameral support i am grateful for the leadership of colleagues like senator grassley and senator hassan have long championed independent oversight as well as work of chairwoman maloney leading this reformng effort in the house. bipartisan legislation before the committee with important steps to protect ig from undue interference and interest they have the tools to conduct effective oversight for american taxpayers. the other professions included in the bill have received strong bipartisan support in the house and the senate in recent years and i hope to build on that momentum legislation that will be before us shortly. i appreciate my colleagues
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diligence on this important issue and i look forward to continuing to work together to harness the opportunity before usus to pass these bipartisan reforms and strengthen the walls of our nation independent watchdogs. the record for this hearing will remain open 15 days until 5:00 p.m. the d mother 2021 to the submission of statements and questions for the record. hearing is now adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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