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What is the Obama Administration Planning on Doing that It Wants to Interfere with Inspector General Investigations?

I ask that because there's a provision in the "Stimulus" bill that creates this board called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that can control inspectors general's investigations. Keep in mind, IGs are supposed to be independent from politicization so they can investigate wrong doing in government without fear of outside pressure. It sounds like the RAT Board is meant to undermine the IG's job, making it difficult to do any investigating. Byron York has all the details (Emphasis mine):

You've heard a lot about the astonishing spending in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, signed into law this week by President Barack Obama. But you probably haven't heard about a provision in the bill that threatens to politicize the way allegations of fraud and corruption are investigated -- or not investigated -- throughout the federal government.

The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board -- the RAT Board, as it's known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.

In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask "that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation." If the inspector general doesn't want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he'll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.

When Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime champion of inspectors general, read the words "conduct or refrain from conducting," alarm bells went off. The language means that the board -- whose chairman will be appointed by the president -- can reach deep inside a federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some particularly sensitive subject. Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target.

"This strikes at the heart of the independence of inspectors general," Grassley told me this week, in a phone conversation between visits to town meetings in rural Iowa. "Anytime an inspector general has somebody questioning his authority, it tends to dampen the aggressiveness with which they pursue something, particularly if it's going to make the incumbent administration look bad."

It's become pretty obvious that this non-stimulus bill was made so large and unwieldy deliberately in order to hide the health care provisions as well as the RAT board and whatever other provisions are in it:

I asked Grassley how he learned that the RAT Board was part of the stimulus bill. You'd think that as a member of the House-Senate conference committee, he would have known all about it. But it turns out Grassley's office first heard about the provision creating the RAT Board last Wednesday, in a tip from a worried inspector general. It wasn't until Friday morning -- after the bill was finished and just hours before the Senate was to begin voting -- that Grassley discovered the board was in the final text. "This was snuck in," Grassley told me. "It wasn't something that was debated."

If you click the link and read the entire article you'll see that York found out that the RAT board was inserted into the bill by an unknown member of Congress at the request of the Obama administration.

Charles Krauthammer was absolutely right when he said on Special Report a few days ago that people will become shocked and outraged when all the surprises that are buried deep into the bill are unearthed and exposed to the light of day.

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey who offers this:

The name of the RAT Board is Orwellian, as is its appearance in the administration that claimed it would have the most transparency in American history. Putting IGs under Nancy Pelosi's thumb eliminates transparency and accountability, and calling it an Accountability and Transparency Board is a grim joke. It's simply a mechanism to shut down potentially embarrassing (or worse) IG investigations while commanding others against political foes.

Put simply, it brings the worst aspects of the Chicago Machine to Washington DC -- a result which we repeatedly warned would happen with Obama's election.


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Comments (24)

So, what am I wager on the ... (Below threshold)
ECM:

So, what am I wager on the spin the trolls will put to this bit of news, hmmm?

Stimulus Bill: $787 Billio... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Stimulus Bill: $787 Billion

Kim's Analysis: Priceless!

It's probably racist (and/o... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

It's probably racist (and/or cowardly) to question anything this administration does.

Volokh blog priovide... (Below threshold)
phaedruscj:


Volokh blog priovides more detail that seems take the sting out of this.

SECTION 1527: INDEPENDENCE OF INSPECTORS GENERAL

(a) Independent Authority- Nothing in this subtitle shall affect the independent authority of an inspector general to determine whether to conduct an audit or investigation of covered funds.

(b) Requests by Board- If the Board requests that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation and the inspector general rejects the request in whole or in part, the inspector general shall, not later than 30 days after rejecting the request, submit a report to the Board, the head of the applicable agency, and the congressional committees of jurisdiction, including the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives. The report shall state the reasons that the inspector general has rejected the request in whole or in part. The inspector general's decision shall be final.

I am now wondering how long... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I am now wondering how long BEFORE Obama was inaugurated this "stimulus" bill was begun being written.

(b) Requests by Bo... (Below threshold)
(b) Requests by Board- If the Board requests that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation and the inspector general rejects the request in whole or in part, the inspector general shall, not later than 30 days after rejecting the request, submit a report to the Board, the head of the applicable agency, and the congressional committees of jurisdiction, including the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives. The report shall state the reasons that the inspector general has rejected the request in whole or in part. The inspector general's decision shall be final.

Sure, make the IG's jump through so many hoops that it becomes a burden for them to do their jobs.

When and where to we report... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

When and where to we report to the 're-education camps'?

Simple. It provides protect... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

Simple. It provides protection for the agenda.

Clearly speaking, I ... (Below threshold)

Clearly speaking, I think the transparency board needs an oversight committee appointed by an FCC commission that is selected by a nomination process created by the transparency board.


Sure, make the IG's jump... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Sure, make the IG's jump through so many hoops that it becomes a burden for them to do their jobs.

"So many hoops"? One hoop is to write a report within 30 days detailing why he's rejecting the request. Name a second hoop.

Also, compare this:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

with this:

Nothing in this subtitle shall affect the independent authority of an inspector general to determine whether to conduct an audit or investigation

...
The inspector general's decision shall be final.

Have fun generating fake outrage over your non-issue.

Brian, have you ever had to... (Below threshold)
epador:

Brian, have you ever had to work in a government job, write a government report with a deadline of 30 days or less and do your job? I have, and its no picnic when you are criticizing the ones you have to write the report for.

Perhaps you miss the part t... (Below threshold)
epador:

Perhaps you miss the part that every recommendation that the IG rejects requires a report within 30 days. All the RAT has to do is make a bundle of requests and the IG is overloaded with response reports with a 30 day time limit. Does that begin to sink in now?

"Does that begin to sink in... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Does that begin to sink in now?"

Not when you're on the kool aid wagon, with visions of unicorns and rainbows.

Better questions for Brian are: WHY is this in the "stimulus" bill? WHY did the Obama administration want it? WHY is the name of the sponsor not available?

I thought Obama was for TRANSPARENCY in government. Or did that promise have an expiration date as well?

Brian, have you ever had... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Brian, have you ever had to work in a government job, write a government report with a deadline of 30 days or less and do your job?

Gee, if only the IG had a staff to help out with all his myriad tasks. Poor guy, having to do everything all by himself.

But, you're right, it was better when Bush said that Paulson had the final say, with no recourse at all.

All the RAT has to do is make a bundle of requests and the IG is overloaded with response reports with a 30 day time limit. Does that begin to sink in now?

Sank in the first time. Where does it say the reports have to be more than 1 page each?

I thought Obama was for ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I thought Obama was for TRANSPARENCY in government.

Does it say that any of this is to be done in secret?

Maybe the board should be able to claim "state secrets" and give the IG no recourse.

Can't fault Brian for being... (Below threshold)
John:

Can't fault Brian for being totally oblivious and ignorant on what this provision is designed to do: impede investigations.

After all, Brian, the true culture of corruption is on full display, highlighting the Democratic party and they don't want any other revelations coming to light as they try to implement this shitmulus bill's various pork and kickback provisions.

"Putting IGs under Nancy Pe... (Below threshold)
tyree:

"Putting IGs under Nancy Pelosi's thumb eliminates transparency and accountability, and calling it an Accountability and Transparency Board is a grim joke."

Nancy Pelosi not only leads the "Culture of Corruption" she and the Democrats now own the "Culture of Corruption".

Rangle, Jefferson, Burris, Murtha ... oh forget it, I have to go to work in 9 hours.

But, you're right, it was b... (Below threshold)
Aye Chihuahua:

But, you're right, it was better when Bush Congress said that Paulson the Treasury Secretary had the final say, with no recourse at all.

Fixed that for you.

It is my great hope that th... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

It is my great hope that the office of the IG has the strength of character and concern for the institutions of this nation to keep on hand pre-printed form letters to be used in fulfilling the 30 day obligation. The form letters will state in no uncertain terms that no attempts to undermine the independence with which the IG was created will be accepted in the carrying out of its duties.

The original purpose of making independence a cornerstone of the Office of the Inspector General was to prevent the very type of interference demonstrated by the nefarious insertion into the porkulus bill in the "dead of night" of language intended to neuter that independence.

Let us all pray that the office of the IG understands and treasures that provision as it is the keynote provision that confers power to act without fear of repercussion.

Brian answered my first que... (Below threshold)
epador:

Brian answered my first question by not answering it: No. The rest of his egregious verbiage lacks substance.

"...whose job is to inde... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"...whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House."

Please take note of the bold face above. What is the point of appointing a RAT Board if not to interfere or intimidate?

This is much like the recent decision of the UN to put members of Hamas in charge of guarding a warehouse of ordnance confiscated from Hamas.

We have Congress charging an independent inspector general with investigating any ensuing corruption and then charging those being watched with watching their watcher.

Stupid, time wasting and just begging for trouble.

Brian:"Does it ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Brian:

"Does it say that any of this is to be done in secret?"

There's plenty of ways to hide stuff in plain sight. If you're looking to hide a minivan, wash it and put it in a used car lot. If you're looking to hide a book, slip it onto a shelf in a library. If you've got something legislative to hide, what better way to hide it than slap it in among 1200 pages of other legislation?

"...exposed to the light of... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

"...exposed to the light of day." Aye, there's the rub. Our straight arrow, non-biased MSM will dutifully bury anything even remotely embarrassing or disturbing. It will be up to conservative bloggers/commentators to reveal the trickery, fraud, deceit and corruption contained in this trillion dollar fiasco.

Is it true that the bill co... (Below threshold)

Is it true that the bill contains the language "Nothing in this subtitle shall affect the independent authority of an inspector general to determine whether to conduct an audit or investigation ... The inspector general's decision shall be final"?




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