[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 178 (Friday, December 9, 2016)]
[Pages S7130-S7131]


  The bill (H.R. 6450) to amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 to 
strengthen the independence of the Inspectors General, and for other 
purposes, was ordered to a third reading and was read the third time.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, today, the Senate passed the Inspector 
General Empowerment Act. This is a crucial piece of legislation to 
enable inspectors general to function independently and to weed out 
waste, fraud, and abuse within the government. I thank Senator McCain 
for working with me constructively to resolve the concerns he raised 
last week and for honoring the agreement we made in December 2015.
  Following Senator McCain's objection to my attempt to pass the IG 
bill by a live UC last Thursday, our staffs met and reached a 
compromise. We agreed to remove some provisions of the bill related to 
IG leave policy and IG reporting requirements. Although we disagreed on 
those provisions, I am glad that we agreed to preserve the most 
important parts of the bill.
  Namely, we preserved the provisions of the bill that provide 
inspectors general with timely access to all records of the agency that 
they are charged with overseeing. In addition, the bill contains 
numerous other provisions that strengthen IG independence and equip IGs 
with the necessary tools to weed out waste, fraud, and abuse within the 
Federal Government.
  The bill requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a 
study on prolonged IG vacancies and to provide recommendations for 
reducing these vacancies. It exempts IGs from getting computer matching 
agreements and from complying with the Paperwork Reduction Act, in 
order to ensure that IGs can obtain information and perform 
investigations without first obtaining agency approval. It improves the 
process by which IGs police the conduct of other IGs, to require that 
investigations are conducted in a more timely fashion. It promotes 
greater transparency by requiring IGs to report to Congress 
semiannually on impediments to their work, such as agency interference, 
reports that are not made otherwise available to the public, and 
whistleblower retaliation. Finally, it requires IGs to send IG 
recommendations to the heads of agencies and to Congress and to 
publicly post reports, unless otherwise prohibited by law.

[[Page S7131]]

  It is a waste of time and money to have agencies at war with their 
inspectors general over access to information. The inspectors general 
need to spend their time identifying and helping agencies eliminate 
waste, fraud, and abuse--not fighting for access to the information 
needed to do their job. The bureaucrats need to learn Congress intended 
for the law to mean exactly what it says.
  Unless a provision of law specifically mentions the inspector general 
and prevents access to certain kinds of documents, then those records 
should be provided. ``All records'' means ``all records.''
  I thank my cosponsors who worked diligently with me over the past 
year-and-a-half to help this bill pass in the Senate.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I have long fought to promote transparency 
and accountability in our Federal Government. From standing up to 
defend and strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, to 
protecting government whistleblowers, promoting transparency and 
accountability are among my top priorities. This Congress, Senator 
Grassley and I joined together to introduce the FBI Whistleblower 
Protection Act. And today we have again worked together to advance 
legislation to support inspectors general and ensure accountability. I 
support the revised IG Empowerment Act and hope it can be signed into 
law before the end of the year.
  Inspectors general play a critical role in promoting government 
transparency and accountability. They help ensure that Federal agencies 
and their employees operate efficiently, effectively, and within the 
scope of the law. The goal of the IG Empowerment Act is to strengthen 
the Office of Inspectors General and increase their independence, and 
it is a goal I support. One very important provision would help clarify 
that IGs should have access to all documents they need to conduct their 
investigations, audits, and reviews. This is something I agree with. 
Senator Grassley and I held a bipartisan hearing on this issue and 
agreed to work together to find a solution to this problem.
  While we need to make sure that the IGs have the tools they need to 
do their job, the Fourth Amendment demands that we not grant 
administrative subpoena power lightly. Such power should be granted 
sparingly and be narrowly tailored to protect individuals' civil 
liberties. The bill we advance today strikes the right balance to 
support IGs without giving them a blank check to subpoena any 
individual outside of the government and compel them to testify in 
  We have made good progress in advancing protransparency legislation 
this year. My bipartisan FOIA Improvement Act with Senator Cornyn was 
signed into law in July. And just this week, we learned that a 
dangerous FOIA-related provision in the defense bill was stripped from 
the conference report. This kind of progress can only be made through 
bipartisan work and good faith negotiating. I am glad we will make 
similar progress with the IG Empowerment Act that I hope all Senators 
will support today.