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tv   Hearing on Independence of Inspectors General  CSPAN  October 26, 2021 2:11am-4:24am EDT

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hearing is two hours
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chair peters: the committee will come to order. i want to thank our witnesses for being here today and your service to our nation each and every day. you have extremely challenging jobs to ensure government is working effectively and efficiently for the american people. i look forward to hearing from each of you on how this committee can ensure the independence and the integrity of inspect jurorsen and you -- inspectors general as you continue this work. as federal watchdogs your perspective will be critical in helping us finalize legislation that will provide you and your colleagues with protections to strengthen independent oversight of the government's effectiveness. this legislation is quite, quite frankly, long overdeuvment for decades inspectors general have
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acted as independent northern partisan watchdogs helping congress prevent and uncover waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government and assure our taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately. the counselor of the inspectors general recent annual report to congress estimated that inspectors general saved american taxpayers more than $50 billion last year alone. it's absolutely vital that our federal watchdogs are able to work independently and without the threat of political interference. current law allows for action that is threaten to undermine this independence, including the removal of inspectors general from office without sufficient explanation, and the appointment of partisan political operatives to serve in these traditionally nonpartisan roles. these actions and others have left inspectors general and their critical work vul negotiable political influence and that is simply unacceptable
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chair peters: ensure that acting inspect yours general are selected from a pool of senior level employees within the watchdog community and provide federal watchdogs the authority to subpoena the testimony of contractors and former federal
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officials. through these commonsense solutions, this committee has the opportunity to consider and advance historic, meaningful reforms that strengthen our democracy and promote independent oversight. a goal that i know we all share. i look forward to discussing how we can best protect our inspectors general and swiftly pass these urgently needed reforms. the ranking member is en route. i'll swear in the witnesses now. it is the practice of this committee to swear in witnesses. 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, allison
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lerner is inspector general of the national science foundation and chair of the council on integrity and efficiency. in her role she recommends policies and leads efforts to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse, improves the integrity of the national science foundation programs and operation, and investigates allegations of misconduct in science. miss lerner has 30 years of federal experience, starting her career in the office of inspector general of commerce as assistant counsel. in 2011 she was designated by president obama as a member of the government accountability and transparency court. welcome. before we hear your opening comments, i'd like to recognize our ranking member portman for his opening comments. senator portman: thank you for convening this hearing today. inspectors general are essential to good government. i think everybody understands and agrees with that. congress has a responsibility to
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conduct oversight of the executive branch and that responsibility will be far more difficult without inspectors general. they are inside the agencies. oversee. have unique expertise in the agency's programs and budgets. i think they are congress' first line of defense against waste, fraud, and abuse at those agencies. according to the council of inspectors general on integrity and efishen, we'll hear from cigi today, in fiscal year 2020 alone, i.g.'s work resulted in potential savings totaling $53 billion. that's a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse. we ask a.g.'s to undertake some of the most important and sensitive oversight work. i intend to offer an amendment to today to our slayings we'll considered next week to require the appropriate i.g.'s to review the administration's afghan vetting policy. this would include multiple agencies, complex programs, and evolving information. i think i.g. is the best place
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to do that. they are in the best position to conduct this type much nonpartisan expert review needed to understand an important issue. this committee's responsible for protecting i.g. independence and providing them with authorities to do that kind of important work. since 1978, congress has improved and reformed inspector general authorities many times. this includes legislation to establish a total of 73i.g.'s across the federal government. both i.g. access to information and to protect whistleblowers. these reforms represent steps in the right direction. but we think more work is still needed. i requested today's hearing so the committee can discuss this i.t. legislation senator peters and i plan to consider at next week's business meeting. i want the chairman to know i appreciate the fact you have accommodated request. i think this is positive for our legislation and for our general discussion about the importance of i.g.'s. as noted we have three very important members of the i.g. community in front of us either
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of the department of justice, i.g. and former cige chair michael horowitz. allison lerner. and kevin winters. to start the legislation that we are going to be talking about provides much needed protections for inspector general independence. many worked on this including senator grassley, we should notice his work. will i point out that the current law already requires the president to provide congress the 30 days notice before removing an i.g. we don't change that. it does not increase the time period. it does, however, preserve the congressional intent and the interest in understanding why that i.g. was removed by requiring the president to provide a substantive rationale for removing an i.g. both president obama and president trump removed i.g.'s and told congress they lost confidence in the removed i.g. i don't think we should be satisfied with such a statement no matter the party of the
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president. the legislation also remedies another problem that occurred during the obama and trump administration i.g.'s be named from the community. both president obama and president trump named agency officials as acting i.g.'s raising questions about the independence of those i.g.'s. an agency official cannot conduct independent oversight of his or own agencies and actions. putting an official in charge of the office could kill future reports of waste, fraud, and abuse. the legislation also provides testimonial subpoena authority for i.g.'s. this will allow them to complete interviews of important witnesses even if a person has resigned to avoid participating in an investigation. and unfortunately that has been a common occurrence within our system, according to i.g.'s. subpoena authority is a weighty responsibility which is why i have worked with senator peters to ensure the bill does provide effective guardrails and reporting to congress. additionally the bill
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incentivizing filling i.g. vacancies. installing permanent i.g.'s a important. they provide continuity. i spent a letter to president biden and committee members urging him to fill the 13 vacant senate confirmed i.g. positions. i'm pleased to see the president has taken our advice seriously and nominated individuals to fill a number of those. but all those vacancies need to be filled. the legislation provides measures to improve oversight of the i.g.'s themselves. such as requiring that cige report to congress when it becomes aware of a particularly serious problem at an i.g. office. i know all three of these distinguished witnesses have much to give us, have given this thought. they understand the need for these proposals for change. i thank each of them for their service and taking the time to appear before us today. i look forward to your testimony
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ms. lerner: chairman peters, ranking member portman, and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for inviting me to appear before you today in my role as chairperson of the council of the inspectors general on integrity and efficiency or cige despite the tumultuous caused by the pandemic, our community has remained focused on its vital mission. providing impartial and nonpartisan oversight over transparency into some of the most difficult problems facing the agencies we ever see -- oversee. all together our work in 2020 as has been noted returned resulted in a potential savings totaling approximately $53 billion. a $17 return on every dollar invested on i.g. oversight. for accomplishments like this to continue and expand, action is necessary. each congress the committee presents the community's critical reform proposals to strengthen government oversight
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or resolve challenges that i.g.'s face under current law. this session our legislative priorities strongly focus on enhancing inspector general independence. the institution i.n.s. pends of o.i.g.'s and handing oversight. today i want to highlight some of these initiatives which are part of h.r. 2662 and included in the peters-portman substitute amendment. first as i noted it's imperative that congress take steps to protect the institutional independence of inspectors general. to be spective i.g.'s have to be an independent in both mind and appearance. and being independent is no less important for individuals temporarily serving as head of o.i.g. the i.g. community urges congress to amend the federal vacancies reform act to prevent the appointment of an acting i.g. that calls into question the independence of the office. currently a president can fill a presidentially appointed senate confirmed i.g. vacancy with a
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political appointee or a senior official from the agency the i.g. oversees. such appointments which have occurred under both democratic and republican administrations, create actual and perceived conflicts of interest that undermine the i.g.'s independence and stakeholders confidence in its work. discharge -- discourage whistleblowers from coming to the i.g. with evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse. and create a disincentive for the president to appoint a permanent i.g. the proposed change would have the first assistant of the inspector general serve during a vacancy but allow the president to designate another i.g. or senior o.i.g. official to fill the vacancy. this reform would provide an acting i.g. 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 acting i.g. this legislation together with an additional provision requiring notification to
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congress when an i.g. is placed on nonduty status, will greatly improve in the i.g. independence. we appreciate the safeguards are part of the peters-portman substitute amendment. second, congress must strengthen oversight tools available to o.i.g.'s. the i.g. community with bipartisan support from this committee since at least 2015 has long sought testimonial subpoena authority. an essential tool for i.g.'s to be able to conduct comprehensive oversight. because most i.g.'s lack authority, lack this authority, they cannot obtain 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 undermines our ain't to complete investigations and hold individuals accountable for their misconduct, thereby diminishing the public's trust in government. we are committed to providing technical assistance to develop controls to ensure that the effective and appropriate use of
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this new authority. we want to express our appreciation to chairman peters and ranking member portman, as well as senators grassley and hassan, for including this authority in the substitute amendment and otherwise working diligently with the i.g. community on this needed authority. finally, we also support the committee and members' efforts to reform o.i.g.'s annual reports by leveraging public information and resources such as requiring o.i.g. employees to be informed about their whistleblower rights and protections. making needed change to support cige's integrity committee, and replacing the current indirect process for funding cige with the direct authorization of an appropriation that affords transparency that does not require additional funding from taxpayers. in closing, i'd like to thank all members and staff of this committee for your strong bipartisan support for our community and the seriousness with which you take our mission. i look forward to working
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closely with you all to ensure that inspectors general continue to be empowered to provide the independent nonpartisan oversight our agencies, congress, and the american public so richly deserve. this concludes my statement. i'm happy to answer any questions. chair peters: thank you, ms. lerner. our next witness is kevin winters, inspector general of the national railroad passenger corporation and integrity committee chair council of the inspectors general on integrity and efficiency. he brings a wealth of experience. formerly serving as senior executive with nasa's office of inspector general from 2005 through 2015. as nasa's assistant inspector general for investigations, his staff of special agents, investigative auditors, and computer forensic examiners focused on allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse affecting nasa's programs. he also served in the united states marine corps, retiring as a brigadier general.
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subsequently he held several domestic and overseas assignments, including duties as a prosecutor and defense counsel. welcome, mr. winters. thank you for your service. you may proceed with your opening remarks. mr. winters: thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member. thank you for the opportunity to testify about the important work of cige's integrity committee. as you mentioned i currently serve as amtrak's inspector general. i have been a member of the i.g. community for the past 15 years. to include, as you said, service as nasa at the assistant inspector general for investigations. in 2019 the then cige chair, michael horowitz, appointed me to be an i.t. member. in 2020 the membership elected me to serve as the chairperson for a two-year term. my testimony today will focus on three topics. first an overview of the i.c.'s mission. integrity committee.
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second, our workload, recognizing we cannot discuss ongoing matters. and third, our challenges which present opportunities for improvement. by law i.g.'s have daunting oversight responsibilities over agencies' programs and operations. amtrak's for example, includes a 24/7 nationwide rail service to 46 states and three canadian provinces. employs 17,000 people. as their i.g., congress entrusted me with a tremendous oversight resources. such as powers to audit, to investigate, unfettered access to information, subpoena power, and law enforcement authority. these tremendous powers are typical of i.g.'s across the federal i.g. community. to check this tremendous power, congress, in my view, wisely established the integrity committee to ensure that senior i.g. officials currently about 468 of them perform their duties
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with integrity and apply the same standards of conduct and accountability to themselves as they apply to the agencies that they audit and investigate. the i.c.'s mission, therefore, is to receive, review, and refer for investigations allegations of wrongdoing made against an 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. 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 justice also serves as a legal advisor. this self-policing of the i.g. community is a solemn
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responsibility that requires the integrity committee to be inglant, independent, objective, nonpartisan, and appropriately transparent to maintaining the trust of our key stakeholders, which are the public, congress, whistleblowers, and witnesses, and those within our investigative jurisdiction. while there is always room for improvement, the continue egg grit committee and support staff work diligently to uphold this serious responsibility. fiscal year 2021 saw a dramatic jump in communications to the integrity committee. in 2020, for example, received 1,152. this year, 3,917. we also saw an increase in complexity and severity of the incoming complaints. we met 19 times in f.y.2021, opened 65 cases for review. which involved 30 different agencies. we completed three investigations which were submitted to appropriate -- for appropriate action to appointed
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authorities and relevant congressional committees. we also initiated four investigations. as of this hearing, the i.c. has nine investigations pending completion. as someone who has done by professional life in service to my country in peace and war, i reserve the balance of my timing nies how fortunate we are to have a system of government built on adherence to the rule of law and checks and balances, which includes independent inspectors general who help ensure the effectiveness of their agencies. i rise in supporter h.r. 2662. i am thankful for your interest in the efforts of the integrity committee to serve as createddible and trusted check on the -- credible and trusted check on the tremendous powers entrusted to senior members of the i.g. community. i look forward to your questions, recognizing, of course, we cannot discuss ongoing and open matters. thank you. chair peters: thank you, mr. winters. our final mns witness is michael horowitz, inspector general for
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the department of justice n his role he oversees a nationwide work force of more than 500 special agents, auditors, inspectors, attorneys, and support staff whose mission is to detect and deter waste, fraud, and abuse. he also serves as the chair of the council of the inspectors general on integrity and efficiency. cige, an organization comprised of all 75 federal inspector generals. since the start of the pandemic, he has simultaneously led the pandemic response accountability committee, a committee of 22 federal inspectors general that oversees the federal pandemic related emergency spending. mr. horowitz, good to see you again. you may proceed with your opening. mr. horowitz: thank you, chairman peters. good to be here again. thank you, ranking member portman and members of the committee. each year as was noted independent oversight work by i.g. results in billions of dollars in recoveries and savings for the taxpayers.
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the bipartisan inspector general independence and empowerment act of 2021 will allow the i.g. community to build on that success and further protect the public we serve from waste, fraud, and abuse and mismanagement. i'm going to address two provision that is are particularly important to my office at the d.o.j. expanding my office's jurisdiction to include professional misconduct by d.o.j. attorneys. and providing i.g.'s with testimonial subpoena authority i am the only inspector general in the federal government that does not have the authority to investigate all elg add misconduct, plug professional,
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by agency attorneys. there is no principle basis in my view for granting my office oversight over d.o.j. law enforcement personnel such as f.b.i. agents, or excluding d.o.j. lawyers from that same o.i.g. oversight. providing my office with such jurisdiction would enhance the public's confidence in the outcomes of these investigations and provide the o.i.g. with the same authority as every other i.g. the importance of statutorily independence pent office within d.o.j. to oversee allegations of misconduct by d.o.j. lawyers was even recognized recently by the national association of assistant u.s. attorneys in a recent opinion piece. while that organization disagreed with me that such oversight should be done by my office, and inted proposed the head of the department's office of professional responsibility being a senate confirmed position, we both agreed gree that independence is necessary to promote public confidence in
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investigations of department lawyers. congress has already created such a statutorily ind independent entities at this time -- entity with d.o.j. to conduct such oversight. the d.o.j. o.i.g. we employ dozens of attorneys whose backgrounds and experiences are similar to lawyers in the d.o.j. including former prosecutors and department attorneys specializing in attorney ethics. this group of my attorneys at the department of justice, o.i.g., led our review of the fisa abuse allegations, and our overview of a.t.f.'s operation fast and furious, as well as other sensitive and complex matters. further, the o.i.g. would ensure that the process for reviewing attorney misconduct allegations is identical to the o.i.g. system that's currently exists across the department of justice for nonattorney misconduct allegations. for decades, the o.i.g. is
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coordinated effectively with the d.o.j. law enforcement components. the disciplinary processes have substantially improved since the o.i.g. obtained oversight authority over those components in 2002. these same transparency and accountability mechanisms should apply to d.o.j. attorneys and that's why i believe the public would be well served by adopting this legislative change. let me turn briefly to testimonial subpoena authority which i also strongly support. the absence of such authority behind hinders our ability to potentially obtain critical evidence from former employees, employees of federal contractors, and grant recipients, and other nongovernment witnesses in investigations involving waste, fraud, and abuse and misconduct. recently congress granted this authority to cige's pandemic response accountability committee as it had previously done with the recovery accountability and transparency board in 2009. further, the department ofdefense i.g. was granted this authority by congress in 2009
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and it has used it appropriately and sparingly. my office has numerous examples and high profile and not so high profile investigations and rues -- reviews where a lack of such authority has undermined our efforts. for example in our recent revie of the fib february's handling of the nassar investigation, the former president refused a voluntarily follow-up interview with my office after we learned additional information about an alleged potential conflict of interest involving a former f.b.i. special agent in charge. this inability in numerous cases to hold accountable former officials for serious misconduct diminishes the public's trust in the government and harms the taxpayers. importantly, your legislation includes several appropriate and important safeguards which i fully support, including allowing the attorney general an opportunity to object to the issuance of the subpoena, and an i.g. panel to oversee the
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issuance of such subpoenas. i hope the compete moves this legislation forward. the committee moves this legislation forward. in conclusion, thank you for your leadership and this committee's leadership in supporting our independence oversight efforts. i look forward to your questions. chair peters: thank you, mr. horowitz. the inspector general independence clearly is vital to our democracy. congress must take every effort to ensure your independence is not undermined. that includes providing oversight when an i.g. is removed from office. legislation that we are working on and working on with ranking member portman includes an enhanced 30 day notification requirement for the president to provide a detailed reason for removing an i.g., which gives congress the time to clib brown-waite, whether the removal is appropriate and warranted. miss lerner i know you mentioned this in muir opening comments. if you'd like to elaborate we
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would love to hear. and i would love to hear from the other two witnesses on your thoughts on this require. ms. lerner. ms. lerner: thank you. we appreciate the proposed amendment and greater clarity that would come from more in depth statement than the simple fact that a president has lost confidence in an i.g. as you note that gives congress in particular greater insight and makes it much more likely that they'll be able to conduct appropriate oversight. we hope that it will also -- prevent situations where i.g.'s are removed for purely political reasons. when there is clear that the president has to articulate a lemed -- legitimate reason for that removal. it also bolsters, we believe, these reporting requirements the notice requirements that already exist that relate to removing an inspector general. chair peters: mr. winters. mr. winters: i agree with
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ms. lern's assessment. chair peters: mr. perrot wits? mr. horowitz: the enhancement requirement, because i.g. positions are different, the need for independence, allows congress to better understand the reasons for the removal. most importantly allows the public to understand the reasons for the removal. we are there to protect the public and the taxpayers. so they should know the real reason and the actual reason why i.g. was removed. chair peters: thank you. i'm going to start the question for mr. winters, i want to hear from our other two witnesses as well. under current federal vacancy law, nothing prevents the president from appointing an acting i.g. who isn't qualified or who has a conflict of interest. in the event of a vacancy, why is it important to limit who can serve as an acting i.g. to individuals who already serve in the i.g. community? mr. winters. mr. winters: from my perspective it gets down to independence and competence in doing federal
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oversight work. take someone from the i.g. community to serve in that role i think is a real benefit to the nation anti-agency rather than -- and the agency rather than someone who comes a political perspective from their own agency. chair peters: mr. horowitz. mr. horowitz: mr. chairman, the g.a.o. issued a report last year and the comptroller general spoke to this problem which is the inherent clear conflict that exists. it's whoally inconsistent with the -- wholly inconsist tept with the i.g. act. as you and ranking minority member portman indicated overseeing an agency, senior official from that agency, whether a political appointee or not, there cannot be that level of confidence and trust from the public that is truly independent oversight. and also creates issues for whistleblowers. why would they go to an agency to complain about senior official's misconduct if they knew that i.g. office was
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overseeing by a senior official who would know their identity and, of course, as we have seen as i.g.'s, the threat of retallant, fear, is -- retaliation, fear, is with good reason. we have seen whistleblowers retaliated against. chair peters: ms. lerner. ms. lerner: the i.g. act requires that the inspectors general be appointed without regard to political affiliation and based solely on integrity and their demonstrated excellence in certain specific disciplines. that's important because i.g.'s, they are positions to lead independent and objective units focused on the i.g.'s twofold mission of preventing waste, fraud, and abuse and promoting economy and efficiency. the purpose of the -- those requirements is completely undermined if an acting i.g. who is either a political appointee or in the agency being overseen is asked to run an inspector
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general's office. chair peters: thank you. mr. horowitz, you cited the d.o.j. -- o.i.g.'s lack of testimonial siena authority as a reason why individuals with potentially relevant information to an investigation were able to ignore questions from the office. you cited the example of thes in aar example, which, unto -- nassar example, unfortunately, which i'm all too familiar with being from michigan. how will testimonial senior authority improve the work of the inspectorren? mr. horowitz: extremely important change and helpful to us in a wide range of our work. it's easy for me. i can cite example after example in our high profile cases, but it happens very frequently in our not so high profile cases where individuals simply refuse to appear. or we have had occasions where people have resigned a few hours before a compelled interview. precisely because they want to avoid speaking to us.
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two examples like that in the last couple years. whistleblower cases, we have had it both within f.b.i., where a former senior official wouldn't speak to us about alleged retaliation, and we had it with a contractor where a contractor claimed that their employee -- employer, had ripped off the marshal service. we tried to speak to their supervisor, who had left the contractor. we couldn't. those are the problems we face. chair peters: ms. lerner you testified that inspector general oversight can be substantially hampered by the inability to compel the testimony of witnesses who have information that cannot be obtained by any other means. a few agency i.g.'s including the department ofdefense i.g. already have testimonial siena authority. and released as i understand it that power so far has been used judicial and sparingly. simply having the authority means the i.g.'s often rarely have to use it.
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how can we ensure that testimonial siena authority isn't abused? ms. lerner: at a minimum we start by applying the same standards we use for our documentary subpoenas and we build on that. in my office, for a documentary subpoena to be issued, there are six sets of eyes that go on it. three investigators, two attorneys, and then me. our focus and attention has added a great deal of value there. in the 30 years of our existence we never had the subpoena enforced. we are not alone. other i.g.'s have this. we build on those procedures. we add additional controls that are appropriate for the stepped up risk associated with testimonial subpoena authority. and then obviously we comply with the additional controls that you are considering that would require notice to the attorney generals' own transparency about the use of
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this authority through i.g. semiannual reports. we are commit committed to working with you all to ensure those protections are in place. mr. winters: mr. chairman, may i add something. from the integrity committee's perspective, where we have oversight over senior inspector general personnel, to include inspector generals, this would be a great tool for us as well. like michael horowitz testified, we have individuals that leave government. we have the authority and the public interest to investigate them even after they leave. but if they refuse to testify, or to answer our calls, our investigations are somewhat pointless. to ms. lerner's point in terms of how is the t.s.a. checked? the integrity committee serves as a check on abuses of testimonial subpoena authority as well. chair peters: thank you.
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we are in the midst of votes why you are seeing members come and go. i need to vote myself. i will turn the chair -- gavel over to senator hassan, and recognize ranking member portman for his questions. senator portman: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here and for the testimony you provided. it's very, very help 23u8. 30 day notice period and the provision that is we want to include within that so that there is some rationale that the congress and american people can understand are real important. testimonial subpoena, we put guardrails in place for a reason, because we think this is a power that could be abused. want to make sure it's not. in that area there is some discussion of putting a sunset on it. i understand if it's a sunset that is very short it would be hard for it to work out. it takes a lot to get that process up and going. but what about a sunset of four or five or six years for testimonial subpoenas? how would you feel about that? anyone feel free to chime in.
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ms. lerner: i'll start.congressy to revoke an authority it's granted. our concern with the sunset provision is that it's a blunt instrument. our preference would be to have a requirement to have the use of these authorities reviewed by, you know, an independent eptty like g.a.o. and allow the results of that review to inform congress' decision about whether to continue or to revoke this authority. but yes, if a sunset date is necessary and we understand that that's important for some members, we would ask that the period be long enough to enable us to have sufficient numbers of examples to make the case for the use of the authority. since in many instances, the fact that a testimonial subpoena
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authority could be issued is enough to ensure an individual's compliance with an interview. so we would, you know, we would prefer, you know, a 10-year period, if -- before sunsetting and that's in no small part because of the amount of time it's taken us to obtain this authority in the first place. it's taken us 10 years with congressional support to get this far. and we're worried that we could, with a hard and fast sunset lose that authority and have great difficulty getting it re-authorized. senator portman: we'll have further discussions on that. this is an important thing to resolve today as we go into debate the next couple of weeks on this legislation. it's incredibly important you all have independence. we rely on you to conduct some
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of the most sensitive and important investigations in government because we believe you're uniquely qualified to be able to do it. you've got the expertise, and the nonpartisanship, and i.g.'s need to be beyond reproach. i'm going to ask a few questions about one such sensitive and important investigation by your office, mr. horowitz, and this is a sensitive topic, i know, but i think it's one that's important for us to talk about today as we have the leadership of the i.g. community before us. it's about the investigation of former f.b.i. director andrew mckaib. mr. mckaib was fired for lacking candor under oath in 2018 shortly before his retirement. late last week, d.o.j. reversed course, settling a lawsuit by mr. mccabe to call his leaving a voluntary separation and
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reinstating his retirement. could you speak about that? mr. horowitz: it concerned alleged leaks about information that was potentially damaging to secretary clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. the f.b.i. special investigators developed information that they believed -- led them to believe that depp didirector mccabe may have lied to them. they referred it to us, with the position he held at the f.b.i. we assumed the investigation and concluded in a public report that remains on our website, that the country can see, that mr. mccabe lied under oath and not under oath on several occasions when he denied at various points several key facts and information including who was the source of the leak.
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spart portman: it's my -- senator portman: it's my understanding that the office of professional management recommended that mr. mccabe be fired is that correct? mr. horowitz: that's certainly correct as to the f.b.i.'s office of professional responsibility. as you indicated he's a career employee, they adjudicate in the first instance our findings so our report goes to them. they agreed with us on almost all but not all, of our findings so they made their own independent call that in fact he lied on multiple occasions but didn't fully find everything we found. they then sent it to, because deputy director mccabe's position, there's a different process for him, it went to the attorney general for review, then attorney general sessions and my understanding is, and this, i don't have complete insight too, but -- insight to but my understanding is that the attorney general asked a career official in the office of the deputy attorney general to
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handle the review and that person recommend red veufl -- removal as well. senator portman: the senior person agreed with your finding that the removal is appropriate. is that consistent with how the office of justice and office of professional responsibility has handled these cases in the past? mr. horowitz: that's my understanding as well. senator portman sps: was your report influenced by president trump or anyone in the trump administration, any political considerations? mr. horowitz: absolutely none. senator portman: did the settlement change your findings? mr. horowitz: we were not sued. our findings remain the same. the f.b.i. issued a statement stating that they stand by their findings as well as their o.p.r. and their conclusions. senator portman: how did this happen and what message does
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this send to f.b.i. agents that a former director was not reprimanded for lying under oath? mr. horowitz: i think it's important that wrong doers be held accountable no matter what level they're at in the organization and it's particularly important we hold senior officials accountable the same as lesser officials. senator portman: do you see this as a double standard? mr. horowitz: i don't know the evidence they saw or why they settled, i was not a party to that settlement. but it's very important, this is why i think the f.b.i. issued their statement as. we it's very important for employees to understand that we will hold them at the o.i.g. accountable regardless of their position or standing.
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senator portman: you were appointed by president obama. mr. horowitz: that's correct. senator portman: how important is your independence to making statements like those you just made today? mr. horowitz: it's central to what we do. in other countries people in my position can't do that for fear of being fired, removed or frankly even things worse happening. i have an opportunity to meet, or had an opportunity to meet the sigi chair with delegates from foreign countries, and it struck me how many time thinks officialed wanted to know what we did and how we did it because in their countries they might get killed. senator portman: this goes to the importance of the testimony you're providing today, the legislation we're considering and the interest in maintaining the independence of the i.g.'s in our system of government. thank you.
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senator hasan: thank you senator. senator carper, are you available? senator carper is joining us virtually. senator carper, are you ready to be recognized? i think he's coming. senator carper, you're recognized for your questions, if you're ready. senator carper: i am ready. ready. first question regarding legislation called the watchdogs running act. the legislation would give the office of inspector general authority to continue oversight of agency operations in the event of a government shutdown to the extent that certain
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agencies continue to operate. somewhere down the line there's going to be some agencies that don't shut down and will continue to operate and we want to make sure the inspector generals keep operating too to key an eye on things. mr. horowitz, nice to see you again. ms. lerner, mr. winters. can i get you to take a moment to discuss the importance of ensuring oversight continues even during a government shutdown? as much as we hope we didn't ever have another one we probably will. that's my first question and it pertains to our legislation, bipartisan legislation, that we've introduced. mr. horowitz: i agree with you completely about the importance of keeping i.g. offices running even in the event of government shutdown. we've been appreciative of the fact that appropriate orrs on the subcommittee ha given us
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authority to carryover up to $4 million in funding that a -- and that in part helps us continue running if there's a government shutdown but of course it's a limited period of time that will allow us to continue operations. when the government shuts down, the grants that were given out, the contracts given out by the government, all of that work continues, or at least all of those moneys continue to flow. at the justice department, agents continue to work. lawyers continue to work assuming the courts are not shut down. and there's oversight work to be done. and it shouldn't be the case that the overseers are shut down while the money can'ts to flow. so i think it's important that we continue our work. senator carper: that's fine. same question for ms. lerner and mr. winters, just very briefly, your comments, please. ms. lerner: what i would note, expanding on what horowitz
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indicated, it's wonderful that i.g.'s have indprent appropriations but a downside of that is it limits the -- our ability to continue working in a shutdown situation. like him, i'm lucky enough tore carryover funding that could let me keep my folks working about a week. but my agency with its many different appropriations has much greater flexibility and latitude to keep staff working potentially and we would not be able to oversee them. i know we are not alone at nsfoig in that situation. it would be of value not just to us but the whole i.g. community in situations where we face a government shutdown. mr. winters: and very briefly from amtrak's perspective, the trains continue to run during a government shutdown. and as you've seen in the newspapers, there is a -- shs a -- this is a very important
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national function to run a railroad but there's safety considerations at bay. so to shut down the office of inspector general while trains are running is inconsistent, in my view, with good government. senator carper: thank you. as a frequent rider of amtrak, i say thank you, sir. next question. pertaining to political interference. this would be a question for all of you. start off if we could with ms. lerner, with you on this. you can be our leadoff here. the inspector general's act of, i think it was 1978, established the offices of inspector generals at 12 federal agencies. describes those offices as independent and objective units charged with investing in -- investigating waste, fraud, and abuse and promoting much-needed
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accountability. is this committee -- as this committee considers reforms to the i.g. act to address the integrity of inspector generals, can each of you share what's the most important reform that we can accomplish or may want to consider giving lessons learned under previous administrations. what we in congress may want to consider. ms. lerner, why don't you lead us off -- mr. winters: in terms of the present bill, the vacancies and replacement of i.g.'s that are leaving government for, pick a reason, but for example, if the president removes an i.g., i think that is a critical
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juncture in terms of making sure that there's appropriate reform to ensure that the next i.g. going in is truly independent. the other matters in the bill are equally important but that's the one to me that strikes me as most important. senator carper: thank you. ms. learner, what would you say are the most important changes? ms. lerner: i have to double down on the statement that the acting inch g.'s have the independence to do their work. when you look at the lengths and numbers of vacancies we have had over the last, you know, five years, and the lengths of those vacancies, you find acting officials in positions for years. and so it's essential if the work of the office is to continue and to provide value to congress and the american public, that you have someone who can lead that work and whose
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independence will not be questioned. senator carper: thank you. and same question. most important reform congress may want to consider. mr. horowitz: thank you, senator. i think the vacancies is the most important for the reasons previously indicated by 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 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
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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 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
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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. 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.
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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, 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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 --
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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, 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,
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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. 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
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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 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 --
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 if we're given the authority we would build step ints our peer-review process to examine the use of this by inspectors general, ensure they have appropriate procedures in place and you know, factor that into the ultimate assessment that happens periodically of all i.g.'s investigative operations. mr. horowitz: can i add, senator, if someone think it's improper, we have to go to quoamplet can't enforce it, we go to court. senator hassan: thank you, i
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appreciate that. i want to go deeper on something you mentioned, ms. learner. -- lerner. and i'll ask inspectors general horowitz and winters to reply also. it's important to note subpoena authority isn't new. the department of defense office of inspector general has had testimonial subpoena authority for more than a decade. i.g. horowitz you mentioned in your testimony that the department of defense i.g. has used its testimonial subpoena authority sparingly, issuing only three subpoenas for testimony since its received the authority in 2009. how can the d.o.d. i.g.'s use of this be a model for how others can use the subpoena authority in a judicious and thoughtful way? mr. horowitz: i think it is important for us to use it as a model because it's worked so well for a dozen years. what i would expect to happen as i understand is happening and has happened at the defense department i.g. is before an
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i.g. signs a subpoena for testimony, they engage counsel or the witness themselves to understand what the concerns are. if there are any issues that are testimony. frankly we do that now, when we are trying to get people to speak to us voluntarily we do those things. what i understand from the defense department is the reason they've had to issue so few is they've been able to come to agreements to define the parameters of an acceptable interview. senator hassan: inspect general winters you mentioned earlier that your integrity committee of sigi can prevent abuse of the testimonial authority as well. mr. winters: abuse of authority is squarely within our jurisdictional realm. senator hassan: to inspector general lerner, i appreciated
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your testimony regarding my work for semiannual reports to congress. this is to simplify the semiannual reports to make them more access to believe congress and the public and place greater emphasis on the department's response to i.g. recommendations to root out waste, fraud and abuse. how would these reforms help the inspector general community and are you confidence inspect jor generals and congress will receive the information these reports are intended to provide? ms. lerner: i am absolutely confident that these reforms would not interfere with the transparency that congress deserves from inspectors general. in the 40 years since those requirements were enacted, i.g.'s have made tremendous gains in being transparent. we all have websites now. we have places like oversight. gov. these will allow us to more efficiently produce the semiannual reports and leverage
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those existing resources and that will ensure that the most important matters are clearly visible and transparent. and that the time and energy we put into -- we used to put into doing things of lesser interest can be redirected and produce better outcomes for our office and for the people who depend on our work. senator hassan: thank you very much. and to all the witnesses, thank you for your work. senator peters: senator lankford. senator lankford: thank you all for your work, we appreciate the work and ecourage you to stay on it. inspectors general deal with waste, fraud, makes recommendations, brings up ideas of greater efficiency. so inspectors general that are leaning into an agency and proposing ideas helps us all, helps the nation. there's an expectation of that work. let me be one of many to say to
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you lean in. we need you working well in that task. i've got a whole litany of issues and questions i want to walk through and address. we've talk through the several things. i would tell you what i hear most from people at home when they talk about inspectors general and issues they see in government is, why does it seem like no one is held to account? we all know that's not correct. there are some people held to account but it becomes a big deal when we see someone like andrew mccabe who we mentioned earlier, found he clearly ride, was fired and now has been added back in, his pension is now recovered, back pay is being paid back to him. last real sense of, hey, there was an inspector general came out that said this person lied and there seems to be no consequence on it. what we can do to bring you testimonial subpoena authority is of great benefit to just restoring trust in the government and the process so i'm going to drill down on a
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couple of these. mr. horowitz you've been through investigations before that crossed jurisdiction you walked through the issue of glen simpson and jonathan winter. they're state department and they retire and make this even harder. can we talk through when you get into an invest that -- information that may include people from multiple quote-unquote jurisdictions and then when they retire how hard it is to get the testimonial evidence. >> the normal process would be if the employee was still at the state department. i reach out to state i.g. they would facilitate my being able to speak to that person much as i do when people call me. once the employee is gop, the employee is gone and i have no authority over them. state department doesn't. the only one who would is the defense department i.g. and i obviously don't cross over into that realm much. senator lankford: so subpoena power is important for ongoing
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work because there are numerous individuals who are under investigation, they retire and say i'm out if they retire with benefits everyone knows there was activity there, there was fraud, there was abuse, that was something whistleblowers call out but they retire and leave. mr. horowitz: and how do you explain to the complainant who comes in and says i was sexually assaulted, or i'm a whistleblower, or i've reported money stole and you're not doing anything about it. well, we need to get the evidence. senator lankford: we need to get that to you. there needs to be balance in how that's handled. i believe that can work. we've got to find a way to hold people to account in the process. mr. horowitz again for you, you did a very thorough examination on the woods procedures in the fisa. fisa is an area you've been excluded from, you're just looking to see whether the standards that have been set for a fisa application process were followed.
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that's a pretty straightforward issue. when i pulled through this, you sampled 29 fisa applications and found 400 instances of noncompliance with the procedures. then it got worse. you went through 7,000 fisa applications that have been authorized in the last five years. there were 179 which the woods filed as listed from your document was missing, destroyed or incomplete. i want to drill down on a couple of those things. missing and incomplet is one thing. destroyed is something totally different. that's a volitional act. do you have evidence that some of these procedures were destroyed? mr. horowitz: we have evidence that some files were destroy the problem was, the f.b.i., even though they put in place the guidance of creating a woods file had no guidance on what to do with it afterwards. lawyers went in and found a stack of documents in the corner and we were told that was what
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comprised the woods file. so you can't have a effective proceed wrur to try and make sure that fisa is scrupulously act rut through a woods procedure and not ensure the woods procedures are being followed. senator lankford: you made 10 recommendations to the f.b.i. five they responded to, five to the best of our knowledge they have do not do yeuf any knowledge they're following through? mr. horowitz: they told us they are following through and in 60 to 90 days they owe us a report. we have been doing this in other reports with the f.b.i. for years and years because we can't to follow up. that's what it means to have independent oversight we close them, not the agency. senator lankford: mr. winters, i want to drill down on something here. the allegations that come to anyone from a whistleblower or whoever it may be. sometime they're factual, sometimes they're do not sometimes it's harassment from
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an employee that found a way to harass individuals and keep them tied up in investigations. the inspector general has a process for determining if an allegation has merit. i call it a mini grand jury, you can call it what you want. but you have to decide if a complaint has merit. can you walk me through that process how much do you evaluate this and what do you pass on? mr. winters: every inspector general faces this and also the integrity committee as well in terms of the weaponnization of complaints. and -- but we have a process for it. particularly in the pandemic we have a lot of complains coming in. so there's -- we look at basically, is this a valid complaint that alleges some form of wrongdoing that's actionable? from the committee's perspective, whether or not there's a person that's covered, that's basically a senior level person for a typical complaint
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that comes in from, say, for example, nasa, or amtrak. we have a specific section that does that, that has a sifting process. the facts versus the criteria of whether something is factual. senator lankford: we want to be sure someone can't just retire and avoid pursuit on this we talked about trying to get to, who is the chain of sction succession if we need to get to an acting inspector general. we've spoken preect frequently about how to get more inspectors general. this has been an issue of multiple presidents that they just don't appoint inspector generals, they leave it open for a long time. it becomes an issue. this seems to be a gap that i don't know enough about. i'd be willing to talk about. because i never want the inspectors general office to be used as a weapon against somebody unjustly because especially if someone is in
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their personal capacity and is having to hire their own personal attorney in this process and someone is just mad at them for a decision they've made, chooses to weaponnize the process that becomes highly disruptive to them personally and discourages people if stepping into government when they know there's a federal employee who can rep size the process andreev them out. insped i just talk for me personally, we mr. winters: i agree with that. as an inspector general, we take an oath. i took my first oath in august of 1972 to support and defend the constitution. what that means is adherence to the rule of law, not some partisan narrative of course, tod the facts in terms of those particular complaints. >> thank you. mr. chairman if, thank you. >> senator lankford, thank you. thank you for your contributions to the legislation and particularly your work on this testimonial subpoena issue which is a difficult one to navigate but a very important one.
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thanks for your help. we have a number of people who are on virtually, senator ossoff, you're next, i believe, if you are with us. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, inspects general, for your work. appreciate this discussion of the legislation pending before the committee. i also want to drill down on a couple of specific issues within your respective areas of respondent that you've identified as -- responsibility that you've identified as possible targets for reform legislation or change of practice in the executive branch. mr. horowitz, thank you for your collaboration and communication where with -- with my office as we've developed bipartisan legislation to reform the secured camera systems in bureau of prisons facilities. i'd note that that legislation passed the senate last night. you have also made recommendations with respect to
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single-cell confinement for incarcerated persons with mental illness and recommendations with respect to pharmaceutical purposes by facilities and cost of outside medical care. could you briefly outline those recommendations to the committee? >> certainly, senator, and i also noted that the bill passed last night that will, i think, have a potentially important impact on the prison camera system. so with regard to single cells, single celling of inmates, we identified significant concerns with how it impacted individuals' mental health at b.o.p., the b.o.p.'s policies for how to deal with inhates who were -- inmates who were disruptive. this is what it involved, it involved individuals who were disruptive and who the b.o.p. put in special housing units. and in some instances, with cell
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phones. and that is something the b.o.p. says it does not look to do, it does not look to put individuals in solitary confinement, yet we identified numerous incidences where that occurred. so we made a variety of recommendations that the b.o.p. agreed with. i don't know the status of those, but i can certainly follow up on that. on the pharmaceutical and cost side, we've issued a number of reports identifying how the b.o.p. has not taken the steps it could take to reduce some of its costs so that it could save money in various areas that it's spending, particularly on the pharmaceutical side. and so is, for instance, what we found is that there are four agencies that receive what's called the big four pricing which is favorable pricing on pharmaceuticals but that the b.o.p., even though it has one of the largest health care systems, if you will, because it has to take care of the 150,000
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or so federal inmates, doesn't get that preferred pricing. and so we also made the recommendation to the department that it consider coming to congress to seek legislation to also be able to obtain that favorable pricing which could save tens of millions of dollars for the b.o.p. >> thank you, mr. horowitz. there's been some discussion at today's hearing about testimonial subpoena power and the ability to compel testimony from possessor if knell who resire -- personnel who retire amidst or in advance of an investigation. could you also comment on some of the other issues related to retirement of federal possessor if knell amidst investigation? how that can interrupt or terminate the investigative process and the implications for their personnel records when they may seek employment once again in the same or another federal agency? >> absolutely, senator. it's an issue we've been very
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concerned about for years. in fact, we issued a report about this about three weeks ago concerning specifically how the fbi was handling adjudications of employees who had retire thed or resigned during the course of the investigations. so the way the process goes is we invest or the fbi investigates misconduct, it completes its work and sends it to the fbi's responsibility for adjudication which is to determine what penalty or discipline to impose. and what we found is, is that the fbi regularly -- with limited exception -- closes its adjudication if an employee resigns or retires, and we found in 2017 and 2018 that that occurred in more than 10% of the cases. that's concerning because, as you indicated, what happens is in many instances employees resign or retire, and then either get hired as contractors because they're working for a contracting office or go to another government agency to
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work or, in a law enforcement case, might go to state and local law enforcement. and so it's important that the fbi and other justice department agencies and, frankly, across the entire federal government, that when individuals leave who have engaged in wrongdoing or misconduct, that those matters get adjudicated and that the findings be included in their personnel files. and i'll add it also is important in the case where the individuals are found not to have committed this conduct because, by the way, in those more than 10% of the cases i mentioned, in some of them the oig had actually found that the individual didn't engage in the misconduct, yet they weren't cleared, formally and fully cleared because the matter budget adjudicated. >> -- matter wasn't adjudicated. >> thank you, mr. horowitz. mr. winters, the bipartisan infrastructure legislation that passed the senate earlier this year included significant
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investment in passenger rail. i'm a strong advocate for expanding passenger rail capacity. i mean, the united states and particularly in the southeast to connect, for example, atlanta, macon, atlanta/charlotte and additional commuter rail options for rural and suburban and urban communities across the state of georgia. you made recommendations and i think alarming observations with respect to the cybersecurity of amtrak's train control systems. could you please detail in my remaining time those observations and recommendations for the committee? >> in this public if setting, senator, i can't go into a lot of detail on it, and i would be happy to meet with you privately regarding some of those particular details on that. i'll say this, that amtrak is not alone, you know, in terms of having the challenges of cybersecurity. train control systems, of course, are critical to the safety of passenger rail, and
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our office conducts very aggressive oversight in that space. >> thank you, mr. winters. my staff will reach out to yours and set up a classified forum to get into more detail on that. thank you again for all of your service and your diligent work, and i yield back. >> thank you, senator ossoff. senator scott. >> want to thank senator portman for hosting this, this hearing. and i want to thank each of you for doing what you do. you know, i've been up here two years and nine months, and i really appreciate i.g.s because i believe the oversight function of this committee and congress is really important. i like internal audits, it was always helpful to make sure we knew exactly what was going on. one of the questions is how important is this subpoena power, and is it necessary, and
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do you guys -- the each of you could sort of address have you seen situations where an i.g. investigation's been hindered, obstructed, halted because you're not able to compel a person to submit to questions? so if we could start with mr. horowitz. >> absolutely. senator, thanks for the question -- >> thank for the what you guys do, i'm appreciative of it. >> yeah. and as you well know and as i know, the state of florida has the largest i.g. system in the country and a very impressive one -- >> they were actually really helpful to the governor. [laughter] >> and we've worked with the i.g.s there, and they've been very helpful to us on the federal level. >> yeah. >> soen subpoena -- on subpoena authority, i can highlight high profile matters like our nasser investigation where the usa gymnastics president refused a second interview with us so we could ask about allegations involving the fbi's special agent in charge and whether there was a conflict of interest in the fisa review.
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we couldn't reach certain state department employees who had left as well as others who were never government employees but had highly relevant information. i could go back all the way to fast and furious where the u.s. attorney quit rather than speak -- or quit and then wouldn't speak to us. but most importantly, i think it's in the routine, day-to-day ones that don't get those kinds of attention that, as you know, we do all the time. like whistleblower retaliation investigations. i have authority over fbi authority whistleblower retaliations and i can't talk to key witnesses. it happens with contractors who were alleged to have stolen money -- >> i was going to ask you about that. >> congress gave us the authority to do that kind of work precisely because of your concern and making sure we could oversee allegations of theft and wrongdoing. well, if we can't subpoena non-government employees, right, we have no ability even if they work at the contractor, i can't
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compel them to talk to me. i can compel a doj employee. i can't compel one of their contractors, and if they leave the contractor, it's even harder to get that person to agree to speak with us. sexual harassment cases, i could detail multiple ones where the employee left rather than speak to me. >> you just couldn't pursue it. >> well, i have no authority to do -- >> no information, i guess. >> i have the information, the allegation. so are there times i can confirm it? absolutely, through other mechanisms, but it takes us longer. you know, in several of our investigations, by the way, like the fisa one, the clinton e-mail one and others, people did speak to us voluntarily, but they wait til very late to speak to us. and so it delays our work. and so even in those instances where you see us actually hearing from people, it could take us a lot of time to get them to speak to us. so it's a very important tool. i very much appreciate, as i
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mentioned, that the committee has built in place protections because there should be safeguards. it shouldn't be something we just run around and are able to use. there's three i.g.s who are going to have to review it, i'm going to have to review it, i'm going to give it scrutiny. it's not going to go on unless i put a lot of oversight and look into it. so i think it's a critical tool for us, and frankly, you know, for the public. they want to know what happened. >> right. >> they don't want to know that someone stiffed us and we couldn't figure it out or, i think this is what happened, but i can't definitively know. >> right. >> senator, one thing i have learned after serving at nafta for nine years, now amtrak and now on the integrity committee is we carefully decide whether or not to investigate. there's a reason that we're doing that. it's not just some whim, that
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there's a real public interest in finding out the truth and how frustrating it was, you know, nine years at nasa and now at amtrak and now with the integrity committee that we can't really get to the truth because we don't have the tools to do that. so we appreciate your help in that regard. >> yeah. i just want to underscore what kevin sate. it's one of the most -- said. it's one of the most frustrating things for my investigative staff when we have an allegation, we had a situation once we were looking into a small business that had allegedly defrauded nsf, and we were told by one of the employees that he had fabricated the time sheets that we were given to support time. and that ended the voluntary cooperation from all of the people at the recipient, and so we were unable -- we had documently evidence, but we -- documentary evidence, but we weren't able to engage with greater insight and take that case to closure.
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it's extremely demoralizing when those matters come. there are so many benefits that would come from this authority, and some are internal to our own offices. >> you think this is enough safeguards that won't get abused? >> yeah, i think the safeguards you've added are very important. that is clearly a very reasonable, legitimate concern. there's going to be a three-i.g. panel, the i'm sorry g.s are going -- i.g.s are going to have to approve these personally. there's the integrity committee as people are using it, and these are not self-enforcing subpoenas. if a recipient thinks we're abusing the authority, they can go to court. and we're going to have to consequence the justice department civil division we don't have -- we have to sell tell the civil division, defend this subpoena. so there's that layer of protection as well. so you have to convince me, you then have to convince three i.g.s. if a recipient thinks we're
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doing something wrong and they want to go to court, i have to convince the civil division at the justice department, and then they have to convince the judge. i'll just add, senator, the defense department i'm sorry g -- i.g.s have had this authority for 12 years, they've used it rarely, handful of cases. they've not lost the case in that way. >> right. >> you've given it to me as the chair of the pandemic response accountability committee where we're overseeing $5 trillion, and you gave it previously to the recovery act in 2009. in none of those instances has it been abused, so i think there's a track record as well which is why i'm concerned, you know, and we talked about this issue earlier. i think that track record with those protections on top of the concerns that i.g. lerner mentioned earlier, i think should hopefully give comfort to people that this will be used appropriately. we're also going to notify the attorney general, by the way. >> and could i just build on what you said.
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the bottom line is all of us i'm sorry g.s are the ones signing those authorityies, we know what's at stake here. it's taken us ten years, if we're lucky, to get this authority, and we know our use of it is going to be scrutinized. we're going to be hyperfocussed on insuring that we stay on the right side of the law here. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, senator peters. >> thank you, senator scott. you are recognized for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. want to thank each of the witnesses for your testimony and for your public if service. as several colleagues have recognize, i want to associate myself with their comments as well, inspector generals play a key role in our democrats by in-- democracy by independently and objectively working to expose waste, fraud and abuse.
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again, in the wake of the -- [inaudible] as a means of returning integrity and accountability in the executive branch and -- [inaudible] on the work of inspectors general to speak truth to power. in recent years those truths have included, for example, shedding light on the inhumane treatment of immigrants including children in federal detention centers and the shortcomings of our covid pandemic response. however, administrations have exploited gaps in law and undermined the efficacy of the inspectors general, and i appreciate the chairman and ranking member's calling the attention to the issue. now, you know this committee's considering legislation that grants the authority to subpoena witnesses for testimony. at present, inspectors general
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lack the ability -- [inaudible] and former federal employees. so my first question is for mr. horowitz. mr. horowitz, you highlighted numerous investigations, the lack of testimony y'all subpoena power hampered your work. you referenced in particular the investigation you led regarding the former administration's family separation policy which resulted in nearly 4,000 family separations. so using that as a great example how the testimonial subpoena powers have aided your investigation of the family separation policy. >> thank you, senator, and you're right, that is one of the reviews that we've done and investigations that we've done that warrant our ability to have this authority. i think it's fair for us as i.g.s when we're looking at a policy implementation to be able to speak to those who are
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responsible for the policy. in that particular case, the zero tolerance policy was announced by then-attorney general sessions. we got broad cooperation from throughout the justice department from employees at the department, and if i recall correctly, from some employees who were no longer at the department. but we couldn't get testimony from former attorney general sessions who was obviously -- to that discussion. and our inabilitied to do that meant that there were certain items, certain issues, certain discussions that he was a part of that we weren't able to get his recollection of events. there were a few notes of some of those meetings, and so our inability to do it diminished from our ability to fully assess what had occurred. >> appreciate you sharing that. and i know that on the flip side there are folks who say, well,
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any subpoena power can also be abused. so the next question is for ms. lerner and mr. winters. do you think the legislation we're considering has the adequate checks to insure that the authority is not misused? >> i'll start. and, certainly, i think that requiring notification to the attorney general and utilizing an i.g. panel is above and beyond what we ordinarily do. we're building on a very strong foundation that we have in place for our use of documentary subpoenas. we will, by adding, you know, these additional requirements of consultation with the attorney general's office and the approval of a three-person i.g. panel and stepped-up reporting requirements, i think that the evidence will be there that will clearly, you know, incentivize everyone to use this properly. not that i think that incentive
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is necessary. as i mentioned earlier, all of us as i.g.s recognize the stakes if we are granted this authority and are committed to exercising it wisely. but we appreciate your interest in common sense controls to help insure it's not misused. kevin? >> i agree that those controls are adequate, and i also add that the integrity committee which is designed by congress is another check on abusing that authority. >> great. i appreciate that. one more question in the time remaining also for ms. lerner and mr. winters, but i will tee up the question. as government agencies maintain a strong cybersecurity posture, that has never been more important. i think we would all agree to that. numerous breaches of government and critical infrastructure have inspired a significant push to insure that our agencies have the resources and the information they need to effectively guard their systems.
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we also immediate to make sure that agencies are complying with existing cybersecurity requirements. so the question for both of you, what role do inspectors general play in enhancing the cybersecurity of federal agencies and help the reforms that have been discussed today, how they help strengthen that work. >> most of the inspectors general are require by law to conduct the audits of the agencies' information systems securities under the federal information security had -- modernization act. so you have our independent eyes examining the agency's systems in accordance with criteria that is laid out by nist and, i believe, potentially department of homeland security. so you have our independent eyes
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using independently-determined standards, and there's a great deal of value that comes from that. in instances there's penetration testing done as part of that process, and so that adds real insight into the strength of individual agencies' information systems. kevin? >> i agree with ms. lerner's commentary on those tools. finish i'll also add that within the sigi we have a separate committee called the tech committee that we share the best practices of oversight of critical infrastructure i.t. requirements. >> thank you both for your responses and thanks again for your work. mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank you, senator padilla. senator rosen, you're recognized for your questions. >> well, thank you, chair peters. ranking member portman, thank you for holding this hearing. you know, this committee really does some great bipartisan work,
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and i am grateful to both of you to have the opportunity to have this discussion about something really important. as we all know, reforming how inspectors general function in the federal government is fundamentally a good government issue. simply put, i.g.s make government work better for the american people and insure agencies are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. having independent watchdogs insures that federal agencies carry out their public service missions with integrity and efficiency. i was pleased to see in has lerner's testimony that the work of the i.g.s and their staff generated potential taxpayer savings of about $53 billion in fy-2020, a $17 return on every dollar invested in the offices of inspectors general. and i'm going to ask a little bit more about that in a moment. so i really want to thank my colleagues for their serious
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attention to this issue, thank each of the witnesses for their public service and commitment to transparency and accountability not just to the taxpayers in nevada, but, of course, across the country. so i want to think about the savings to taxpayers from i.g. oversight. i was interested to read your testimony, so can you tell us more about how you track and calculate the taxpayers as a work of the -- as a result of the work of the i.g. offices? >> certainly. all i.g.s report semiannually to congress on the work of our audit. and included in the tables in the semiannual reports are the outcomes of our audits and inspections that can yield funds that are questioned as being, you know, dubious expenditures.
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and also funds that could be put to better use. and there are also return, financial returns to government that come from our investigative work when, for example, there are fines, penalties and restitution that come through criminal cases or in the case of false claims, potentially damages can be returned to the government. the singles going to the agency and the rest going to the treasury. so there are ways that our work yields quantifiable financial returns to the government. >> well, you know, i can tell you that a lot of people that are watching today and a lot of the questions we get is really how are we spending people's money, and they're worried that we're wasting it. so maybe could you give us some examples of wasteful spending or other inefficiencies that you've identified from a federal agency and how do you think then congress can help in preventing
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this? >> i think that -- >> ms. lerner, yeah. >> i think there are so many ways that people can misuse monies. speaking from my own agency's experience. what we find sometimes is grant recipients take money, but they do not insure that they use it for the purposes for which it was given. we've had instances where people proposed doing scientific research and are funded by nsf to do that, but it turns out they've actually done that scientific research already, and they're going to take our money and use it for other purposes. and so in situations like that, we pursue a grant fraud investigation and work with prosecutors to hold those people to account for their misuse of government funding. there are other situations that don't rise to the level of criminal or civil wrongdoing that involve people who have
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perhaps misunderstood the rules governing the funding that they're receiving. and many those instances -- in those instances, we question that process. i think much of the improvements that are necessary in situations like that reside within the agency in insuring that people who receive funding understand their obligations and understand what's expected of them in terms of managing the money. but i'd be happy to consult, to get back to you with more concrete ideas about whether there are mechanisms for congress as well in that process. >> thank you. ill look forward to that. and the other thing is i know that you need a lot of help to do these investigations, so i want to talk about recruiting and retaining qualified i.g.s because, in my view, one of the most important services at the council of inspectors general on
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integrity is insuring their i.g.s and staff are qualified to do your job. we've talked a lot today about the importance of i.g.s who really are making sure they're truly independent from agency heads, from the president. but i'd like to hear more about what you all think makes someone qualified to be an i.g. and how we can unsure we have talented individuals to fill these jobs. so, ms. lerner, could you comment how we could improve on building out the pipeline for oversight talent, please? >> i think one of the best things that we can do is insure that people who, you know, who are my daughter's age, you know, i have a daughter in college and one in law school, that they understand the opportunities that are available in the oversight community and see us as viable career paths.
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we have many people who are going to be aging out of leadership roles, and we've got to insure that we've got a new generation coming forward that are willing to engage with us. we're doing a better job on our part about getting the word out about our mission will accept us there. we also in sigi have a great i.g. candidate panel that supports both the president and agency heads in seeking to fill i'm i.g. positions. they look at the experience, obviously, in the statute. there are certain discipline-related terms that i.g.s are supposed to have, but you also want to know that someone interested in being an i'll g. understands how hard it can be to be independent, how difficult it can be to sit at the top of an organization where you are part of but at a distance from your own agency and also committed to engaging with congress. and you these to be
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responsive -- you need to be responsive and respectful to both of those sides of your reporting obligations, but you need to maintain your own integrity in doing your work the way that it's appropriate within the i.g. act. so we ask a lot of questions focused on that of people who are interested in being i. g.s as well. >> thank you. and i see my time is up, so, mr. horowitz and mr. winters, i'll submit the same question to you for the record, and we hoevenfully can build -- hopefully can build a good pipeline of qualified, caring people to do this very important job for the united states government. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, senator rosen. ranking member portman, i know you had some closing questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i won't take the full time. i just want to say that i think this has been a terrific hearing and exchange of views, and it seems to me that of all the issues we've touched on, probably the one that has had the most potential controversy controversy is the testimonial subpoenas. i appreciate your initial response to my questions and to
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chairman peters' questions on that. i think it's important to lay out what the guardrails are because we've talked a lot about them, and i do think there are some safeguards here that senator peters and i have included in our bill that are quite effective. because i do think it's an e enormous responsibility that the i.g.s would be taking on to subpoena people after they leave. number one, the attorney general would review and would be able in that case to provide information as to potential conflicts with other investigations that might be ongoing, and i think that's important. that information could be considered by this panel. it's a panel of i.g.s, three senate-confirmed i.g.s would have to approve it. the cigi chair is responsible with selecting those three i.g.s. third, it would only be available for audits, evaluations and investigations that the i'm sorry g. was undertaking, so not some tissuing expedition, and would
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have -- fishing expedition. and fourth, cigi wassed asked to issue standards, and those, i think, would be consistent with standards we've laid out before including that it be reasonably related. and fifth, there'd be a congressional reporting requirement. these are semiannual reports to congress, so it's not a report prior to the issuance, but it is to let us know how it's working, what piece going on -- what's going on. and, ms. lerner, you talked about that as maybe a potential way for congress to be anal to understand without -- able to understand without having a sunset put into the legislation itself. finally, i would just say -- and, mr. horowitz, you mentioned this earlier this morning -- that people still have access to the counts. so i appreciate you letting me do that. i think our bill is balanced. i think, you know, it's a good way to insure the independents of i.g.s but also insure these investigations can continue. thank you. >> thank you, ranking member portman, and i agree. look forward to moving it forward. senator -- >> can i comment if briefly on that? >> absolutely.
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>> okay. because i just want to expand on one of the items you mentioned, which is a.g. review, and as now as i'm sorry g. under four different -- five different attorneys general, that has meaning even though it's not a veto, for example. i should just note, you know, we as i.g.s and our law enforcement responsibilities and investigative responsibilities work regularly with the justice department, prosecutors and leadership. the fact that the attorney general would come into one of the i.g.'s who wanted to issue a subpoena and say that could cause us a problem with an oncriminal matter or national security matter which might be a rare instance, but the former might be, we would -- i can't imagine a scenario where we wouldn't say we're not looking to interfere with anything that you're doing in terms of criminal or civil cases. so i think that's actually a very important process, and i appreciate you mentioning that,
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senator. because i think that is of great significance. >> thank you. senator hawley, recognized for your questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thanks for waiting for me, and thanks to the witnesses for being here today. it's good to see all of you. ms. lerner, i want to start with you, if i could. are you familiar with the report from wilmer hale, their independent investigation regarding allegations of misconduct by three dhs employees? >> i'm aware of the report. >> have you read it? >> very heavily redacted version. >> so my office has been contacted by multiple whistleblowers who allege widespread misconduct including, i'm afraid, you. and i want to give you the chance to respond. i always take whistleblower complaints very seriously, and they pointed me to the wilmer hale report which i've now read which i have to say is very, very disturbing. for those who don't know, it's 108 pages here, 70 interviews
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conducted, 42,000 documents reviewed. and what wilmer hale found is that a number of dhs o to ig employees improperly interfered in the senate confirmation process regarding dr. ca farly to be the i'm sorry g. at dhs -- i'm sorry g. at dhs. wilmer hale notes at the outset of their report that, of course, any citizen has the right to question a presidential nomination in their personal capacity. federal employees in their capacity as private citizens have a first amendment right to express their political opinions and may contact law make maniers to do so -- lawmakers to do so. however, it is misuse of authority for a federal employee to interfere with a presidential nomination or the senate confirmation process. and then they say federal employees should not use their government resources, including the the e-mail system or access to lawmakers or other government officials, for personal gain or for any other unauthorized purposes. wilmer hale further reports in
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their investigation, following their investigation that these individuals who were opposed to the doctor's nomination within dhs oig came to you, ms. lerner, to discuss the nomination. they wrote to you saying that they had a sensitive matter related to the dhs i'm sorry g. nomination to -- i.g. nomination to discuss. and ms. costello, one of the complainants, sent you a link regarding california coast university. i guess the complaint is the doctor's ph.d. was not from a suitably prestigious university. during the interview, ms. costello spoke to ms. lerner about the nomination, said they were doing so because it was in the best interest of the agency. ms. lerner agreed that they had an obligation to protect the organization and to figure out whether others knew that the doctor's degree was issued by a
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diploma mill. they found that you encouraged -- you were on government property at the time using government resources on government time that you encouraged what wilmer hale concludes was a serious interference with the senate confirmation process and a pretty serious misuse of government resources. i know you didn't sit for an interview. women her haling said you wouldn't sit for an interview, but we have you here. these are serious allegations. i thought i'd give you a chance to respond. >> i appreciate you giving me the chance -- >> i'm not sure your mic is on. >> appreciate you giving me that opportunity. the most that i can say right now is that statement of the conversation is not consistent with my if recollection of it. >> so you deny that you encouraged them to spread around complaints using government resources that dr. kafari was unqualified for the position, that his degree was issued by a
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diploma hill? >> senator, may i jump in for a second? >> oh, i'd like an answer to my question. >> i do -- i did not encourage, i did not take the actions as described in the statement made by ms. costello. .. in my capacity as vice chair, and michael can speak to this as well in his capacity as chair, we would frequently be called by individuals working in oig offices with questions or concerns they thought we could headlight on. we would endeavor to help, to answer those questions. we take calls from people who
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have a concern and tried to steer them in the right direction, and that's all that i did hear with these individuals. i think that's consistent with our obligation as leaders and at no point was i trying to undermine the nomination of anyone for p.a. has position. why didn't open an investigation at these allegations? why did it have to be an outside investigation which have evidence of wrongdoing? >> that's a question that's directed to the integrity committee. because -- >> it was part of her decision, was in it, to open investigation? >> the leadership is purposely separate from the committee to preserve its independence to
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conduct an investigation of oig folks. >> so when the report says that it's a misuse of authority for a federal employee to use his our office to review and interfere in the federal should not use government resources including email systems or access to lawmakers or other government officials for any unauthorized purpose, you're saying for the record under oath you never did any of those things? >> i did not. you know, undermine anyone's nomination for a -- >> you didn't use email system, access to lawmakers or any other government resources for any unauthorized purpose? >> i use the e-mail systems to respond to questions from individuals about a situation in their office, and just attempt to steer them in the right direction and provide guidance
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to them as they confronted the challenge. that is not in my view inconsistent with my obligations as a public servant. >> well, i'm disappointed that we are here and that this is frankly it's come to this impasse that we had this report from wilmerhale that is quite extensive and can be quite lengthy. you didn't sit for an interview. they were not able to get your views on into this. neither did you, mr. horowitz. i think it's very disappointing and i think the fact we now have multiple whistleblowers coming to us about this series of events. this is harling reading and disturbing reading that it would be, this would be happening. i just want to simcoe to try to get to the bottom of it i'm disappointed it's come to this. >> i appreciate your concern but i would say that mr. horowitz and i engaged with people both sides of that situation who had concerns, and wanted to protect both the privacy of both of the
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entities that we were involving, so people would feel comfortable coming to us for counseling and things like that. >> senator, respond to that. the sears issued by the way used to work in the doj of oig as you may know, was an agent. i talked with the joe both wireless confirmation was pending and after eight he became ig, and he can explain to you however much you would like. i'd be happy for do that, how much time i spent with him as did allison on several of those calls to help him as vig to get settled in and to deal with some of the challenges. in terms of that i also talked to them actually, as he can describe to you, if you like and i think it may be even in that
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report, when he wanted to move forward and sought to move forward with the allegations and how to deal with them. with regard to wilmerhale reaching out to us and to me in particular, we engage with the lawyers and asked them to give us some idea of what they were looking to speak to us about. as ms. lerner just indicated, as sigi chair and as vice chair, i regularly receive calls from igs, , from others in the ig community to give them advice, guidance, views on how they can proceed. some of it was as routine as career advice, some of the was far more significant. and the question i had for wilmerhale lawyers was what information generally in areas they were looking at and to get at because we do have an obligation to ensure that
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discussions we had like had with mr. kashkari are maintained in confidence when the individual comes with us would like them to be in confidence, and then assess whether there's a need for the investigators to have that information. i've got to understand a little bit more before i just sit for an interview as cigie chair and asked about variety of conversations that i have had with people come to me. and i frankly view it as the ig act provisions that are law that has doj ig -- as doj ig if those individuals that come to me there's ig act provision that requires confidentiality. i've got to think long and hard about that for making a decision on what to speak to. i never ruled it out, but the question was until the end and tell there was an unwillingness to have that discussion, that was my concern is that we didn't
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have a dialogue and i wasn't comfortable at the time knowing what i i was to speak to becae frankly i didn't have firsthand knowledge of a lot of what i ultimately ended up reading about in the wilmerhale report at the time they reached out to me. i was nothing they what. >> my time is long expired here and mr. trim has been very indulgent. i will have follow up question for you for the record. i can't adjudicate your dispute with wilmerhale, why he did or didn't sit for an interview. i just noting the fact that so your relevant information, in particular, you ms. lerner likely information about these discussions would've been able to shed light you did that for an interview. that's your prerogative but this is, the fact is this is serious, this is serious what i read in this report. i hope this isn't normal. it sure as heck shouldn't be and we have more work to do to get answers. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator, i'm unhappy to h you and talk to you in person.
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>> as a my. >> mr. winters, anything to add? i understand you want -- >> mr. horowitz recollection the back-and-forth with wilmerhale council yes is accurate and i share his willingness to communicate with you more on this. >> thank you. >> i want to thank again our witnesses for joining us here today and for our committee members were engaging in this critical issue. we have an opportunity before us to advance some of the most significant reforms to strengthen independent inspector general oversight in a decade. legislation that senator portman and i've been working on has strong bipartisan as well as bicameral support, and i'm grateful for the leadership of colleagues like senator grassley and senator hassan livelong champion independent oversight, as well as independent chairwoman maloney who's leading
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this reform effort over in the house. the bipartisan legislation pending before our committee would take important steps to protect the ig from undue interference and ensure that they have the tools to conduct effective oversight for american taxpayers. many of the provisions included in the bill have received strong bipartisan support in both the house and the senate in recent years, and i hope to build on that momentum with the legislation that will be before us shortly. i appreciate my colleagues diligence on this important issue and and i look forwaro continue to work together to harness the opportunity before us to pass these bipartisan reforms and strengthen the roles of our nation's independent watchdogs. the record for this hearing will remain open for 15 days until 5 p.m. on november 5, 2021 come for the submission of statements in question for the record. this hearing is now adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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