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Monday, August 06, 2007

House committee votes to give IGs fixed terms

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved legislation designed to better insulate government inspector generals from political retribution by giving them fixed seven-year terms.

The Improving Government Act (H.R. 928), which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., cleared the committee on a voice vote with no audible dissent.

Under the bill, the internal agency watchdogs, who now serve at the pleasure of their appointing authorities, could be fired before the end of the terms only for cause, based on such factors as malfeasance, permanent disability, inefficiency, neglect of duty, or conviction of a felony.

The bill would also authorize IGs to send copies of their budget requests to Congress to deter officials in their respective agencies from slashing their funding in retaliation for unfavorable audits.

In addition, the legislation would authorize $750,000 for the creation of a government wide IG council to give the watchdogs a unified voice and develop a "best practices" guide for audits.

-Terry Kivlan, GovExec.com

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