Date: January 11, 2017
President Signs H. R. 6450,
Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016
On December 16, 2016, the President signed H.R. 6450, the “Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016” into law. The new public law (P.L. 114-317) modifies the “Inspector General Act of 1978,” providing additional authorities to Inspectors General, and removing barriers to performance of their investigative duties.
Provisions of interest to SSA:
- Provides that any computerized comparison of Federal or non-Federal records conducted by the Inspector General (IG) in the course of an audit, investigation, or other review, shall not be considered a computer matching program under the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act (CMPPA).
- Exempts IG information collection activities related to an audit, investigation, or other review from Paperwork Reduction Act requirements.
- Requires additional information to be included in IG semiannual reports to Congress, including:
- summaries of each report in which no Federal agency response is provided within 60 days, in situations where and any unimplemented recommendations exist;
- statistical data tables showing total numbers of investigative reports, referrals for criminal prosecution, and criminal indictments;
- descriptions of metrics used for the statistical tables;
- a report on misconduct investigations involving senior Government employees;
- descriptions of any instances of whistleblower retaliation, including information about any agency attempts to interfere with the independence of the IG (including attempts to restrict funding or access to information); and
- descriptions of audits, inspections, and evaluations that were closed without ever being disclosed to the public, including investigations involving senior Government employees.
- Allows information protected from disclosure in semiannual reports to be provided to a Member of Congress upon request. Also restricts the IG from disclosing to the public or Congress any personally identifiable information of a whistleblower without that individual’s consent.
- Requires IGs to post any recommendation for corrective action on the IG’s website, no later than 3 days after submission in final form to the agency head (except where otherwise prohibited from disclosure by law).
- Authorizes timely IG access to all agency information (except where expressly prohibited by law) that relates to programs and operations to which the IG has oversight responsibilities.
- Establishes a process for IGs to request from agencies Federal grand jury materials. Requires the Department of Justice, upon notification of the IG request (as relayed through the agency head), to approve or deny such a request within 15 days. The Department must also notify the House and Senate oversight and intelligence committees in Congress of any denials, including explanations of any denied requests.
- Provisions are effective upon enactment.