Committee Launches Bipartisan Investigation into Department of Commerce Office of the Inspector General

May 23, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) today wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an examination of the performance, effectiveness, and management of the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Commerce (DOC-IG).

A previous committee investigation in 2007 exposed management abuses within the DOC-IG and ultimately led to the resignation of the Commerce Inspector General. Now, six years later, problems continue to afflict the management of this office, and the Office of Special Counsel is currently investigating personnel complaints. Additionally, in December 2012, the Merit Systems Protection Board issued a stay order against the DOC-IG preventing some IG law enforcement agents from talking to Congress. According to the Washington Post, two former special agents recently pleaded guilty to filing false expense claims and committing attendance fraud and were later accused by Inspector General Todd Zinser of waging a smear campaign against the office. Recent information provided to the committee by the DOC-IG also raises concerns over the effectiveness and performance of the office. In light of recent controversies and complaints, the committee is requesting GAO conduct a thorough analysis of the office and its operations.

The members are asking GAO to answer the following questions in the following areas:

  1. Performance and effectiveness: What are the appropriate performance metrics to determine the performance and effectiveness of the DOC-IG office? What is the appropriate timeframe to measure trends in these metrics to evaluate performance and effectiveness? Applying the appropriate metrics and timeframes, what has been the performance and effectiveness of the DOC-IG’s office? Is it appropriate to compare the DOC-IG performance metrics with those of another Office of Inspector General? If so, what does such a comparison show?
  2. Management concerns: What is the status of DOC-IG investigative performance? Has it been improving or declining? Has it been affected by controversies and disputes between some current or former DOC law enforcement agents and the DOC-IG management? Has performance been affected by certain personnel practices?

To view a full copy of the letter, click HERE.

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