Wednesday, April 22, 2009

AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS MORE THAN COME

At Hill Hearing, IGs Seek More Powers and Staffing to Oversee Contracting By Ed O'Keefe Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, April 22, 2009 A new Senate subcommittee responsible for tracking government contracting heard yesterday from federal watchdogs seeking greater investigatory and enforcement powers and more staffing to try to keep up with the expansion in federal spending. . . . To do so, inspectors general said yesterday, they need subpoena powers on a par with those afforded to grand juries.
Currently, inspectors general must notify subjects of an investigation before they can obtain financial records, an impediment to comprehensive and timely investigations, said Brian D. Miller, inspector general for the General Services Administration.
He suggested that the restrictions could help suspects destroy evidence, intimidate witnesses or flee the country.
"As an illustration, telling someone like Bernie Madoff that he's under investigation would only give him an opportunity to hide or transfer ill-gotten gains before the government had an opportunity to understand the full extent of his crimes," said Miller, referring to the financier convicted of defrauding his clients of almost $65 billion.
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There is probably no better protector of citizen rights and monetary integrity than the government's system of Inspectors General. Scandal after scandal would have gone unexposed without the dilligent and nonpartisan efforts of these watchdogs. If ever there was a good place to spend a buck and invest power, it is among the various IGs.