Saturday, July 25, 2015
Obama administration says it has the right to restrict investigative powers of inspectors general
The Obama administration says it has the right to restrict investigative powers of inspectors general.
“In reaching these conclusions, our Office’s role has not been to decide what access [inspectors general] should receive as a matter of policy. Rather, we have endeavored to determine as a matter of law, using established tools of statutory construction, how best to reconcile the strong privacy protections … with the interest in access reflected in … the IG Act,” states the legal counsel’s opinion released on Thursday.
“The department has long held the position that the inspector general should have access to all the information it needs to perform its essential oversight function.
“Consistent with this view, department leadership has implemented procedures to ensure that the inspector general receives sensitive law enforcement information in a timely manner.
“Additionally, the department is committed to working with Congress and the inspector general on legislation to address any gaps in the law that may hamper the inspector general’s ability to access such information in a timely manner,” Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said.
“I strongly disagree with the OLC opinion. Congress meant what it said when it authorized Inspectors General to independently access ‘all’ documents necessary to conduct effective oversight.
"Without such access, our Office’s ability to conduct its work will be significantly impaired, and it will be more difficult for us to detect and deter waste, fraud, and abuse, and to protect taxpayer dollars," Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, said in a statement.