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This testimony discusses H.R. 885, Improved Financial and Commodity Markets Oversight and Accountability Act. This proposed legislation recently referred to Congress is intended to enhance the independence of inspectors general (IG) in key financial regulatory agencies including the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Credit Union Administration, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In numerous reports and testimonies over the last several years, we have discussed the key role that IGs play in federal agency oversight. The Inspector General Act of 1978, created offices of inspector general at major departments and agencies with IGs who are appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and may be removed only by the President with notice to the Congress stating the reasons. The IGs are to prevent and detect fraud and abuse in their agencies' programs and operations; conduct audits and investigations; and recommend policies to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. In 1988, the 1978 IG Act was amended to establish additional IG offices in designated federal entities (DFE) defined by the act. Generally, the DFE IGs have the same authorities and responsibilities as those originally established by the IG Act but there is a clear distinction--they are appointed and may be removed by their agency heads rather than by the President and are not subject to Senate confirmation. In the now more than three decades since passage of the IG Act, the IGs have been instrumental in enhancing government accountability. This testimony discusses (1) the legislative proposals in H.R. 885, (2) the key principles and importance of auditor and IG independence, and (3) current coordination mechanisms in place for IG offices.

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