Two bills that were recently introduced in both the House and Senate would authorize federal funds to be used for maintaining Oversight.gov, a website that consolidates reports from the 73 Inspectors General (IGs) across the government in order to give the public easier access. On October 26, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced the Oversight.gov Authorization Act and on October 28, Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.) introduced a companion bill.
In October 2017, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency launched Oversight.gov as a volunteer effort without any appropriated funds. In addition to IG reports, the website currently includes a tracker for IG vacancies and resources for whistleblowers.
According to a press release, the Act “would formally authorize the establishment and maintenance of this website to help improve the public’s access to IG reports and other related material, as well as help whistleblowers report waste, fraud, abuse.”
“A government of the people must be accountable to the people,” said Senator Grassley. “Oversight.gov helps to bring together the great work of our Inspectors General from across the bureaucracy on one comprehensive website for the American people. This one-stop-shop for transparency is essential to improving accountability in the information age.”
“Inspectors General play a critical role in ensuring that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being put to good use, and it is important that their findings are easily accessible to the public,” added Senator Hassan. “I am pleased to join Senator Grassley and our colleagues in the House of Representatives in introducing this bipartisan legislation to support the independence and integrity of the IG community by codifying and authorizing funding for a website where the public can access IG reports and get more information on how federal dollars are being spent.”
Under the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Inspector General Act, federal employees are protected from retaliation if they engage in protected whistleblower activities, such as filing an internal complaint about a superior. Each federal agency has an Office of Inspector General (OIG), which acts as an internal watchdog for the agency. IGs publish results of their investigations in reports which are made available on Oversight.gov. For example, in a report published on October 29, the U.S. Department of the Interior OIG found that U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director James Reilly retaliated against a USGS whistleblower.