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McCaskill Calls For Independent Watchdogs for Small Federal Agencies

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NEWS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (MO.)

McCaskill Calls For Independent Watchdogs for Small Federal Agencies

As she prepares legislation, Senator leads hearing examining level of accountability for smaller agencies

WASHINGTON – Small federal agencies—which often lack oversight from a dedicated, Presidentially-appointed watchdog—got a review today by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill as she prepares legislation to further bolster accountability across the federal government.

McCaskill led a Senate hearing aimed at examining the role of Inspectors General (IG), which she has called “the eyes and ears of taxpayers in the federal government,” in guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse in the 41 federal agencies and departments that have no statutory IG.

“Each of these agencies has a budget that sounds small when you compare it to the federal government’s $3.5 trillion budget—but add it all up, and we’re talking about well over $1 billion in budget authority every year that has virtually no oversight,” said McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight. “When there is no oversight and no accountability, money gets wasted and mismanagement goes unaddressed.”

McCaskill used the hearing to examine the level of independence of IGs that are not Presidentially-appointed, but rather are hired by the agencies themselves, potentially posing a conflict of interest.

“I don’t know how you can be independent… if you owe your job to the head of the agency,” McCaskill said. “It never made sense to me that you’d have an IG hired by the person they’re supposed to be overseeing.”

As she considers legislation to ensure that every agency has the oversight of an IG, McCaskill heard today from the Inspectors General for the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Government Accountability Office.

McCaskill is also considering consolidating the IG offices that have five or fewer full-time employees, and assigning larger IG offices to oversee other agencies which do not currently receive independent oversight.

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