What is the Obama Administration Planning on Doing that It Wants to Interfere with Inspector General Investigations?

I ask that because there’s a provision in the “Stimulus” bill that creates this board called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that can control inspectors general’s investigations. Keep in mind, IGs are supposed to be independent from politicization so they can investigate wrong doing in government without fear of outside pressure. It sounds like the RAT Board is meant to undermine the IG’s job, making it difficult to do any investigating. Byron York has all the details (Emphasis mine):

You’ve heard a lot about the astonishing spending in the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, signed into law this week by President Barack Obama. But you probably haven’t heard about a provision in the bill that threatens to politicize the way allegations of fraud and corruption are investigated — or not investigated — throughout the federal government.

The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.

In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.

When Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime champion of inspectors general, read the words “conduct or refrain from conducting,” alarm bells went off. The language means that the board — whose chairman will be appointed by the president — can reach deep inside a federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some particularly sensitive subject. Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target.

“This strikes at the heart of the independence of inspectors general,” Grassley told me this week, in a phone conversation between visits to town meetings in rural Iowa. “Anytime an inspector general has somebody questioning his authority, it tends to dampen the aggressiveness with which they pursue something, particularly if it’s going to make the incumbent administration look bad.”

It’s become pretty obvious that this non-stimulus bill was made so large and unwieldy deliberately in order to hide the health care provisions as well as the RAT board and whatever other provisions are in it:

I asked Grassley how he learned that the RAT Board was part of the stimulus bill. You’d think that as a member of the House-Senate conference committee, he would have known all about it. But it turns out Grassley’s office first heard about the provision creating the RAT Board last Wednesday, in a tip from a worried inspector general. It wasn’t until Friday morning — after the bill was finished and just hours before the Senate was to begin voting — that Grassley discovered the board was in the final text. “This was snuck in,” Grassley told me. “It wasn’t something that was debated.”

If you click the link and read the entire article you’ll see that York found out that the RAT board was inserted into the bill by an unknown member of Congress at the request of the Obama administration.

Charles Krauthammer was absolutely right when he said on Special Report a few days ago that people will become shocked and outraged when all the surprises that are buried deep into the bill are unearthed and exposed to the light of day.

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey who offers this:

The name of the RAT Board is Orwellian, as is its appearance in the administration that claimed it would have the most transparency in American history. Putting IGs under Nancy Pelosi’s thumb eliminates transparency and accountability, and calling it an Accountability and Transparency Board is a grim joke. It’s simply a mechanism to shut down potentially embarrassing (or worse) IG investigations while commanding others against political foes.

Put simply, it brings the worst aspects of the Chicago Machine to Washington DC — a result which we repeatedly warned would happen with Obama’s election.

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