WASHINGTON DC (May 18, 2020) — Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA), a longtime advocate for inspectors-general and government oversight across political party and administration, today renewed his call for a detailed written explanation for President Trump’s announced termination of inspectors-general. The notice responds to Trump’s recently-announced removal of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and follows a similar letter about the President’s removal of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
“As you know, Congress created inspectors general to combat waste, fraud, and abuse, and to be independent watchdogs holding federal agencies accountable to the tax-payer. In light of their important and unique role, they report to both the President and Congress. To guard them from unwarranted political attacks from all sides, including from officials that they are duty bound to critique, Congress provided IGs with some additional protections. One of those is the requirement that the President provide notice and explanation to Congress 30 days before the removal of an IG,” Sen Grassley wrote.
The 2008 Inspector General Reform Act requires the president to provide Congress with a written explanation at least 30 days prior to removing an inspector general. An accompanying Senate committee report further explains congressional intent that inspectors-general only be removed from office for failure to perform their duties or for eroding the credibility of their office. Sen Grassley warned that removals without sufficient explanation could appear to be politically motivated and risks discouraging essential oversight necessary to improve promote an effective and accountable government.
Sen Grassley also warned against creating a conflict of interest by drawing political appointees from an agency to serve as its acting inspectors-general.
“As you work toward filling IG roles, it is absolutely imperative than any acting leadership do not create obvious conflicts that unduly threaten the statutorily required independence of inspectors general,” Sen Grassley wrote.
Sen Grassley raised similar concerns in 2009 when President Obama placed Americorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin on administrative leave and announced plans to terminate him, citing a lack of confidence. Walpin was never reinstated to his position.
Full text of Sen Grassley’s letter to Trump enclosed at link.