Earlier this week, 47 Inspectors General (IGs) across the federal government signed a letter to congressional oversight committees complaining about impediments to access to information from the executive branch agencies they oversee. As Politico reports, the IGs write: “Refusing, restricting, or delaying an Inspector General’s access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.”
There are a couple of notes of interest to Just Security readers. First, the CIA IG did not sign the letter. A number of IGs in the national security world did, however, including the IGs for USAID, DIA, DHS, DOJ, NGA, NRO, NSA, DNI, SIGAR, and the State Department.
Inspectors General are unique entities within the separation-of-powers structure. IG semi-independence within the executive branch, as well as closer allegiance to Congress, complicate an IG’s intrabranch relations with its charge when there is an interbranch information access dispute ongoing about the subject matter of the IG’s study. It will be interesting to see the strength and form of Congress’s response.