Axne Amendment Added to Legislation Aimed at Protecting Federal Government Watchdogs

June 29, 2021
Press Release
Amendment to IG Independence and Empowerment Act sponsored by Axne would require more detailed rationale for the removal of an Inspector General

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) successfully added an amendment to strengthen legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives that protects the independence of the federal government’s Inspectors General (IGs) and ensures they can continue investigations of waste, fraud, and abuse within their agencies.

“Inspectors General exist within our agencies and departments to root out fraud, save taxpayers money, and protect citizens from wrongdoing within our government. Their mission is critical, and they need independence and transparency to pursue their investigations and share their findings – which is why I worked to raise the standard by which IGs are potentially relieved of duty with my amendment today,” said Rep. Axne. “If IGs can be removed without thorough justification, investigations that might uncover wrongdoing may fail to see the light of day – or not be started at all – meaning that taxpayers could lose their watchdogs within their government. By passing this legislation, I’m reaffirming my commitment to rooting out corruption and supporting others who are working to make sure government is working for its people.”

Axne’s amendment, which was added to the IG Independence and Empowerment Act earlier today, updates the rationale requirements for the removal of IGs from their positions to require ‘substantial’ and detailed, case-specific reasons for removal.

The amendment strengthens the protections that prevent IGs from being removed for merely obstructive or retaliatory purposes.

Inspectors General work to highlight potential fraud and misuse of taxpayer dollars. One such report, issued last summer by the IG for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), highlighted issues related to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program employed to help small businesses during COVID-19.

Rep. Axne highlighted similar concerns about that abuse, including stories shared by Iowans of fraudulent EIDL applications, in a letter to the SBA in October.

Her letter used the IG’s report to back up her concerns about the abuse, which led the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to issue its own report on SBA fraud earlier this year.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have both endorsed the IG Independence and Empowerment Act.