A group of inspectors general have come forward and accused the Obama administration of stonewalling multiple investigations they are involved in. A letter was sent to Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).
The independent watchdogs, within various federal agencies, issued a letter to Congress last week stating that timely access to documents and other information has been impeded or stalled by agencies such as the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Peace Corps.
The group wrote, “Each of us strongly supports the principle that an Inspector General must have complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials available to the agency that relate to that Inspector General’s oversight activities, without unreasonable administrative burdens.”
The letter encouraged Congress to take action against these stonewalling tactics in order for the IGs to be able to do their jobs.
They wrote that various agencies in the Obama administration are:
“Refusing, restricting, or delaying an Inspector General’s access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.”
“Agency actions that limit, condition, or delay access thus have profoundly negative consequences for our work,” the IG’s added.
Forty-seven different Inspectors General signed the letter. They range from those in the Department of Justice to the US Postal Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The group cited the IG Act stating that it “reflects the clear intent of Congress that an Inspector General is entitled to timely and unimpeded access to all records available to an agency that relate to that Inspector General’s oversight activities. The constricted interpretations of Section 6(a)(1) by these and other agencies conflict with the actual language and Congressional intent. The IG Act is clear: no law restricting access to records applies to Inspectors General unless that law expressly so states, and that unrestricted access extends to all records available to the agency, regardless of location or form. The Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, so recognized in Section 217 of S. 2437 regarding access to records by the DOJ OIG.”
“A strong, generally applicable reaffirmation of this Congressional intent, coupled with the use of all available powers to enforce such access when agencies refuse to comply, will assist Inspectors General in obtaining prompt and complete agency cooperation,” they concluded.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who released the letter, said, “This is an Administration that pledged to be the most transparent in history. Yet, these non-partisan, independent agency watchdogs say they are getting stonewalled. How are the watchdogs supposed to be able to do their jobs without agency cooperation?”
So what did Grassley say should be done in the matter? He called for more possible legislation. One wonders if the criminal administration that the IGs are investigating will heed further legislation. I’m doubtful. These inspectors general were given specific authority by legislation to perform their duties. The Executive Branch is impeding those investigations.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the role of inspectors general on Monday as being an important means of fighting corruption. In a speech from Africa, Biden said, “There is also a need to have in every government agency what we in the United States call, and it could be different in every country, we call it an inspector general.”
“Someone who is able to roam through every department, like here in the United States, the Defense Department, the IRS, the Treasury Department writ large, the Department of Interior, to be able to look at the books, to be able to look at everything that’s transpired with independent eyes. People who cannot be fired,” he continued.
He even encouraged the leaders of Africa to employ similar measures. “Corruption, as I said, is not unique to Africa, but it’s a cancer. It’s a cancer in Africa as well as around the world,” Biden said. “Widespread corruption is an affront to the dignity of its people and a direct threat to each of your nations’ stability, all nations’ stability.”
The obvious question should be, if they are so important Mr. Vice President, then why is the administration you are a part of, one that claimed it would be the most transparent, being not only one of the most opaque, but one of the most corrupt in our nation’s history? And why are America’s representatives not invoking impeachment against this president, rather than conducting more investigations and looking to write more legislation? Could it be that in many cases they have become corrupt and cowardly themselves?
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The Obama administration has been criticized before for censorship and a significant lack of transparency. In March, an AP investigation found that the administration “more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them.”
“The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy,” AP wrote. “Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found.”
Last month, 38 journalism groups criticized the Obama administration for severely limiting access to federal agencies and a general politically-motivated suppression of information despite the president’s pledge of historic transparency.