As part of the CARES Act passed in March, Congress authorized the creation of a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to oversee the billions of dollars in new federal spending.
In the past, when Congress created a Special IG to fill a sudden need for new government oversight, it quickly followed with additional legislation to provide the IG expedited hiring authority to staff their new office and begin timely oversight operations.
In that tradition, this past May, I introduced S. 3751, a bipartisan piece of legislation modeled on past special IG expedited hiring authority language.
S. 3751 provides the IG a short six-month window to quickly hire the staff he needs to build his organization and begin carrying out the oversight mandated by Congress under the CARES Act.
However, as of today, my bill still hasn’t passed, and IG Miller has been left to work with an office that is still highly understaffed.
That’s an outcome that should concern everyone passionate about government oversight.
Whenever the government spends large sums of money, as we have in addressing this pandemic, there will always be bad actors out there lying in wait to test the system.
We need a fully staffed and fully functional IG in place to meet those bad actors head on – to serve as effective check on waste, fraud and abuse.
Despite broad support for my bill from both sides of the aisle, I have heard rumors that some of my colleagues across the aisle may be wary of granting expedited hiring authority to the IG simply because they don’t agree with the personal politics of the individual confirmed to the position.
This amounts to an attempt to nullify the IG’s confirmation by limiting his ability to conduct oversight.
Congress has already made the decision to establish this IG. Now we need to give the office the resources that it needs to succeed. Personal and political disagreements are not reason to deny the American people oversight of how billions of their tax dollars are being spent.
Once the IG hires staff and has the ability to begin the substantive oversight work mandated by Congress, there will, as always, be an important place for Congressional oversight to ensure the IG is doing his job. I intend to conduct the same level of oversight of this IG that I have for others, and I expect my colleagues will do the same.
That’s why I urge my colleagues, regardless of any personal differences they may have, to support this bipartisan legislation granting expedited hiring authority to the Special IG for Pandemic Recovery and include it in the forthcoming COVID legislation.