tv Project on Government Oversight Summit CSPAN November 16, 2018 8:34am-9:36am EST
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> welcome. let the last few people speaking. i i am the executive director of the project on government oversight or pogo and welcome to the first oversight summit. i want to thank our founders, thank you the foundation, , the democracy fund for helping to
make this possible including a reception this evening at 5:30 p.m. i also want to thank our many partner organizations, the german marshall fund, demand progress, the levin center at wayne state law school, the lugar center, open technology institute, partnership for public service and thank you for space as well, protect democracy, tech congresspeople also have 45 speakers from around the oversight community from the nonprofits, let's say and executive branch. i am very excited we can be part of helping to create this oversight community and will be having on screens in this hall and upstairs all of the schedule for the day so you won't have to look at your phone constantly to figure what's happening. they are on the screens outside but it's all on this floor and third floor. our first event, i'm very excited to introduce michael horowitz, and we were going to have a little conversation.
[applause] >> so just in case you don't know which is hardly if you're in the oversight committee, michael horowitz is head of the council inspectors general for integrity and efficiency as well as the inspector general of the department of justice. we have some things to talk about. so the first thing -- >> all quite any oversight community. >> nothing going on. the first thing i wanted to talk about was the press has been focusing on predictions of increase oversight on the hill. but since the ig act past 40 years ago congressional capacity as significant shrunk. we'll have panels talking but that exact problem. as a result we were expecting to see an uptick of request from congress to inspectors general.
my first question is what advice do you have for members and staff unaccountably whether to turn something over to an ig, what makes a good ig investigation? >> that's a great question and we do get lots of requests, lots of letters from chairs, ranking members of our oversight committees and members throughout congress. i think former standpoint as ig's, it's somewhat good to be popular but sometimes we are a little too popular. in the sense that many of the letters seek to have strike to resolve what are in essence political fights or policy battles, and to try and have ig's weight interested was right and who is wrong. and that is clearly not our role. were not management, not policymakers, not there to settle, resolve, evaluate political fights here that doesn't mean that the reviews that we do don't touch on
significant policy matters and significant political issues. and that's fine. in fact, we often talk about what are the most significant policy issues that are being considered within the executive branch, on the hill, and the public discussion as we consider the work we should be doing because of our limited resources we do want to make sure our reports are impactful and apple to policymakers. but when we do that kind of oversight we are assessing your programs are or are not working as opposed to decide whether they are the right programs or the wrong programs. i think that's a link we would much try to stay out of as igs and state in what is our role which is assessing programs. >> so that's a a igs can help e congress. are there ways, we have a number of people here from congress, are there ways congress can help igs? >> one of the most significant ways that congress assists us is
by having hearings on our reports, follow up on our recommendations with the agencies we oversee to see how they've done in terms of implementing our recommendations. it's the same that occurs in our view it as is important with the public's interest in the work we do. we want to get word out as to what we do through our webpages, through the press, two other mediums. it's very important for us to have others also beware of our work and be there to ask the hard questions of the agencies we oversee as to how they've done in terms of implementing our recommendations. just having us do it is important. that is part of our role, part of our responsibility, something we do regularly. but having others do that as well, whether it's the public, whether it's the press, with its congress is very important.
some light on these issues matter and follow-up matters. >> you are not shy about going to the congress for some igs are maybe less comfortable, sort of a affirmatively going up there. would you suggest sort of affirmatively from congress reaching out to those igs that are within their jurisdiction? >> we have under the ig act reporting responsibly to our agencies and the congress. it is part of a statutory mandate. it's that something i brothers are making up in terms of going to speak and to about i work. it's important part of a igs responsibility to let our oversight committees no whether it's -- in terms of the ig mandate generally or our individual committees like in my case judiciary, and our appropriators as well, for important to remember about the appropriate that over singer agencies. they were quite important in our
fight i was having with our agency and other igs rather with her agency on access to records. they put provisions in appropriation laws they made it clear what the expectations were for the agencies to cooperate with igs. >> you've been speaking large and as the head of seeking fixed switching hats as a doj ig. you have been an unusual position of having both the head of agency the attorney general of the president himself referring things to you. do take all the cases, because you are an executive branch agency in the report to the congress, and how to figure out whether you will or will not sort follow those orders? >> so we have at that. we had that actually previously when attorney general holder referred the fast and first matter to our office, which for those who follow was no, we did as well, and it isn't something that regularly happens but it is
something that he thinks are important for all igs to have that kind of relationship on dialogue with their leadership. for the same reason it's important that dialogue with the congress and oversight committee. you want to know what's important agency leadership. it is helpful to have whether it's the attorney general or the deputy attorney general of the component heads, letting you know where, if you did a review of one of the programs from onee of the issues that it would be helpful to them, that's information that we want to take in much like when we get requests from congress, in assessing what kind of work we are going to do. and what is then i think beneficial certainly in my agency, we fed a very strong relationship with the attorneys general and deputies attorney general throughout the 30th history, in our case, we came into being in 1988, and a very respectful relationship, neither
attorney general holder nor attorney general sessions told us or instructed us what to do. they made the request that we look at those, that work. and that's something we assess and obviously much like request that come in from congress, request from leadership of an agency that says this would be helpful to have you look at this program and give us your thoughts on whether we're doing it right or wrong, is important. again, , we keep in mind, i'm nt looking to get involved in a political or policy fight just because the attorney general asked me to do something as opposed to the chair of the judiciary committee. but having said that, our last review, the election review, we very much focused on what were the issues regarding the departments handling of the policies, procedures, practices, and where can we as the ig office make recommendations that would help the department in
future situations it may find itself where this kind of issues arose. we were looking to do something with the broader systemic issues. >> that was a hot button report an issue to remind people, this was the look into the fbi and doj's actions leading up to the 2016 election. and as you may remember there was almost sort of a hysteria growing around leading up the good release of your port on both sides of the aisle. it seems to me because you are such a straight shooter and people sort of recognize that you were going to take things by the fact, that assumes you released a report, the hysteria died down. it seemed like things, people understood the facts and things called down. what advice to give to other igs that are likely to be facing in the next few years as big sort of high-profile issue? how did you navigate that
pressure and managed to survive such great success? >> i think one of the things we trying to sense some issues at the justice department are higher profile perhaps than others, obviously not as high-profile as of that, but fast and furious. there was a fair amount of tension but many of the reviews we've done so to get a fair amount of scrutiny by those who follow the justice department. one of the things we talked about with that team that did the work as one of the fast and furious team but all of the teams in office that do are reviews is you can of different rules for different views. you have to go forward consistent with its and ohta, yellow book standards. if it's an investigation, the cigie standards for investigations. your own policies and procedures, and very much focus on what the facts are. what does the evidence show.
in that instance would look through a million plus records, did over 100 individuals 100 if individuals, and there's no substitute for making sure you know the facts in at least as great detail as the next person who is looking at this issue. because the last thing we can afford to do is an ig office put out a report and the net people so you missed this issue. you missed that issue. when people said how come you're not moving faster, , huckabee can't get this report done in under, and that case it was about 16 months, 17 months or so from when we launched in january of 2017, one of things i like to point out is we found some of the most significant evidence in the case including some of the text messages but also the classified information that's in
classified appendix, in the second year mark, and the 13th 13th, 14th, 15th month of the review. and only because we kept pushing to follow up on information we were getting along the way. these investigations, these interviews, you start out look looking at a certain area but obviously as igs we're going to follow the leads and follow the information where they go. it's hard to predict exactly how long a review is going to take place but you have to be, just to balance completeness and thoroughness with of course endless looking. that's one of the challenges frankly and ig with the team is when you have done that. >> i appreciate you pointed out there was a classified appendix. as a consumer of your products, without clearance i very much appreciate that is how you purchase a classified work. could you speak to whether that is something that, probably not all igs are doing that and, in
fact, a lot of classified report we don't even know the names of them or that they exist because they are classified. >> i'll speak to what we do. we very much want to make sure that not just congress because congress does get all of our work product including classified work, but that the public knows that the igs office has done a review of the program and even if it's. so, for example, about a year or so into my tenure come some and, can't remember if his 2013 or 2014 we did a review of the fbi's handling of its authorities on fisa section 702, its authorities. openly the department determined that it was entirely classified. congress saw the report. the public did not get a report, even what we normally do which is an unclassified summary of the classified report. that's our normal practice in that instance that was not even possible. but we did nevertheless, put out a statement that announced we completed the review and we send it to congress because congress
could get it. sometimes what we do, and this occurred in the boston marathon bombing, for example, we put out a classified report and a public summary, but even some of those portions of the public summary have been labeled as law enforcement sensitive by the department. we disagreed with it, and what we did was we put out a report and in the public report you'll see a statement there about our objections. going back to your earlier comment, question of congress and its role, congress is been in a position because they can see the classified version, they can see the unclassified version and they can make their own assessment, what they think of that situation as well. >> so we talked about some of the stuff you've done in the past. right now doj is again in the news about the succession of the
attorney general. i've been hearing, some are asking whether this is something that could be reviewed by the inspector general, whether someone can be appointed, whitaker in this case, to the ag rather than the succession. he is at an appropriate question for an ig to review? >> i'll ask another ig that question. >> we will be doing my job if i didn't ask you a hard question. >> you know, i think i'll step back from the specific question, just jealous speaking, go back to what i i mentioned earlier. we are there as igs not to resolve, as follows i think think fair to say, legal issues, with one exception, and i'll turn to our access site. there the question is what was the ig act. as many of you know in 2008 congress amended the ig act to provide ig should have our general councils.
answer in that instance we very much in a legal disagreement over the meaning of the word all in the ig act. >> which is ridiculous. >> as i say, for those who followed it, the office of legal counsel issued a 62 page opinion on that issue and as a lawyer i felt like only a lawyer could write 62 pages of the with the meaning of the word all is. >> and be wrong. [laughing] >> i didn't say that. >> i did. >> we certainly disagreed with that. and fortunately, ultimately prevailed in going to congress and having them reaffirm our right to access to all records. but there are two things i will mention with regard to statute interpretation or as a general matter that probably is that something that would fall within an igs role to assess the law,
the statute can what a statute means. congress passed the statute. congress is uniquely positioned for the constitutional issue, the courts are there as well for the constitutional issue. the other thing that is unique about my office and i wish we talk about this all that is would have authority over decisions by lawyers acting as lawyers. there's office of professional responsibility by statute, office has jurisdiction over that. we objected to that for 30 years but if we're being asked to assess the decision by lawyers and the department on what's a purely legal matter, that really would go to the office of professional. >> that's a a whole other refom will have to work on in the new congress. >> we've tried. >> we'll keep trying on that one. we did also recently witness igs being in the news with there was a political person who was briefly going to take over and become the new acting ig
over into your wii at pogo and colleagues have been concerned about extensive vacancies of igs come in this case mary kendall, there's been a vacancy in the office for over nine years, and mary has been, wasn't the acting but as you know from the vacancies act, restrictions, she after 210 days which is a long time ago, , she is no longr even allowed to be acting. one of the things confined he can't speak to the specifics of the case and the good is the administration was embarrassing to stop in that activity, but it raise this question we what about acting igs of and some is not acting in a, how protect are they? are they just a regular civil service who can be moved around an agency, or what's going on? >> so from cigie's standpoint, i'll put my cigie hat again, we certainly take the view that
acting igs or principal deputies who are serving in the capacity as leading the organization because the 210 days has run should of all the protections that an ig has and not be renewed without 30 days notice to congress, provided for in the act and should all the abilities to hire personnel themselves. this again is within the ig act, make decisions on what oddest to conduct. it's not a legal question. fortune over the years we have been working with the administrations past and current, there's been a respect for that ability to allow the acting or principal deputy who is serving as acting to continue in that function. it's an issue again that
congress is there to conduct oversight and to conduct hearings on, and if there was ever an issue like that, i think the ball would then be in their court to sort through that. we have tremendously talented, acting igs and deputies threat the ig community. fortune that's the case because we have now i think working, 15, i lost track of the numbers because with some recent retirements upcoming, vacancies among the 73 igs so we are more and more needing that kind of talent at the deputy level who can fill in. and we have it. they have great work, but it is a very substantial challenge. i know that because when i showed up in april of 20 talk as the ig of injustice, my deputy had been serving as acting ig for 15 months, or as deputy,
depending upon the time, and faced a number of challenges it goes that was right when the fast and furious issue started arising. there's an immediate question about your authority and your authority being tested you could also happen to be when the access issue started arising. the reason that we go through appointment process, whether we are presidential appointed or agency appointed, is to have that kind of position where an authority where when we go to our agency heads or to congress, or speak publicly, we are speaking as the head of the agency. there's no doubt about that. there's little doubt about that and i think that's one of the biggest challenges that any acting ig faces, because they don't know exactly how long that tenure is going to be. they don't have, it's the same with their agency heads.
they don't know how long that person will be acting. the congress oversight committee doesn't know how long the person will be acting, so it's an challenging and him and respect a farmer challenging position than igs themselves. but again forcibly person tremendously talented people serving in those positions. >> so your office according to reports it really has open investigations into leaks to the media. do you believe that the public interest balancing test regarding the protections of free press and the publics right to know? and how do you navigate that? >> i making most anything igs to there's always a a balancing test that you need to keep in mind. the world, our world is not a black and white world. there's a lot of the gray out there, and so yes, in the media area and the leak area, it's a challenge we face all the time. as you might guess we get a number of referrals to us to
investigate leaks because we get request from defense lawyers whose clients have been harmed or impacted by the media leak. we get requests from people within the department components who have classified information or sensitive jury information or other kinds of information they believe unlawfully disclosed. and we get requests from congress as well. and one of the things that we need to consider in those instances are some issues you raised along with broader questions about the information, how likely it is that someone did, in fact, engage in an unauthorized leak. turns out, if you've looked at, for example, our recent summary regarding the manchester bombing
matter that were asked to look at. turns out there were thousands of people, and so we pretty quickly knew that we were never going to figure out who might have disclose that information inappropriately or even whether it was an inappropriate disclosure because someone might have gotten it may not have had a restriction in what they could do with the information. so it is something we look at. we are respectful of the publics right to know and the medias right to publish information. but we also understand that individuals within -- i will state that as the justice department. individuals in the justice department who have sensitive secret information, information about criminal cases, other protected information, disclosed that inappropriately, can be harming not only national
security, odyssey critically important, ongoing criminal investigations but also individuals. people under investigation have a right to, if they did something wrong, to be charged criminally with it, or if it's a civil matter, have a civil complaint filed against them not to have it leaked because somebody perhaps doesn't like the fact that a prosecutor isn't bring a criminal case is a bring about it. peoples reputations are on the line and with the justice department is doing as his national security, and those are important issues and we think about all of those issues as we decide what to do and which ones to look at. ..
. >> guest: that is not the way we want public policy being made and certainly not criminal investigations to be handled and i think that's a concern. >> so we're coming up on an issue that's very important to me, which is whistleblowers. >> and to me. >> and to you. so, often, or frequently leak investigations, insider threat investigations turn out to be retaliatory investigations and how do you make sure that that's not what you're doing? because, certainly, historically there have been ig's where that's what's happened. >> a very important question and something that we keep in mind all the time as we think about our work and consider
what is an improper disclosure and what might be legal, lawful whistleblowing and making sure that as agencies and as we look at insider threat issues they're not chilling whistleblowers who appropriately want to blow the whistle on wrongdoing. and one of the things that i think is important for whistleblowers and their interest in coming forward is making sure, and this, again, is an ig responsibility, to help educate whistleblowers on the appropriate way to blow the whistle particular will i where it's classified because now there's a whole process set up through legislation how to blow the whistle in a classified -- with classified information. we are out there trying to educate whistleblowers on that. the law doesn't allow you to call yourself a whistleblower
and go out on a street corner and disclose classified information. even if you have the best of intentions in terms of thinking there really is wrongdoing going on. the law does provide that with a mechanism to go to the ig or to congress if you follow the process laid out in the statute and that's very important to us, as i said, to get that word out to the whistle blowing community. i speak at events involving whistleblowers. rob is here this afternoon now nsa ig. he speaks regularly on that and he's my ombudsman when in my shop and we're trying to get that word out. we make sure when we get leak referrals from our agencies and components, this has happened on more than one occasion, where the disclosure may have been unauthorized due to
internal policy or guidance, but is not a violation of law. we've had occasion to write back to the leadership of the component citing the decision in part, which is a supreme court case from 2016 or so, that makes clear that if it information isn't protected by l law, it is protected whist whistleblowing to go to the press in that case, and we've had occasion to write back and component having said, this is not in our view a violation of law or department regulations, and statutory violation and we've looked at the whistleblower laws and it appears to us to be protected whistle blowing activity. so we're not handling it and we
would strongly advise you not to conduct investigation because if you do, we will end up investigating the retaliation matter. and so we've taken upon ourselves to do that as well. >> that's great. so -- and people should start thinking about questions because we're going to have two people running around with mi mikes in a second. there was the special afghanistan construction wrote on the hill and he was challenging the ig community to think not just to think about inputs and outputs, but outcomes and challenging whether the community of ig's are incentivized to focus on the most important issues and the other thing he raised was should there be more cross cutting subject matter ig's looking at issues across the entire government like cyber
security or health care. so what do you think about some of those ideas? are ig's innocecentivized to doe most important things? >> i think those are great issues and important things for us in the community to think about. we think about it all the time when we're doing our work. it's fine to think about the minutia and the important individual issues that we're finding in our audits, our reviews, our investigations, but i'm often times speaking with our folks about stepping back. what's the bigger issue? what's the bigger picture that we're seeing that may need systemic reform or systemic changes? because that's, i think, what we bring to the table is not just finding misconduct when it occurs, not just finding problems in programs, but really, our core function and our core mission by statute is to help the department become a more effective and efficient operator of programs. and to do that, you really have
to understand the bigger picture and think more systematically and more broadly and make recommendations geared that way. we had a 40th anniversary event in july at the capital visitor's center and heard from several different speakers, from congress, from executive branch, making that same point, which is more and more of the expectation and the desire on the part of policy makers from ig's is to look at these bigger systemic issues and think more broad broadly. are programs affected? what are the outcomes showing. yes, we need to look at inputsment yes, -- inputs and yes, we need to think about-- and step back and write to the bigger picture question of the work. and i think one. challenges that we have as ig's in doing that, obviously, is there's this, always this question of well, what's your return on investment and measuring our return on
investment based on what our dollar findings are. well, as an agency, the department of justice, where i'm often looking at justice issues. my roi is not that good compared to other executive branch agencies because there was zero value in the election review that we did if you do just purely dollars and cents. fast and furious. national security reviews that we do of fbi's practices. dop, what we've done in the federal prisons, female inmates and aging inmates. none of them had dollar findings with them. i think what we need to think about as a community and the oversight community needs to be thinking about, how do you measure success for ig's beyond the one metric, which is an important one, for many organizations, which is dollar-related findings. and congress should be thinking
about that as well. on the second question about cross-cutting ig's, you know, i think that what needs to happen, and i'm-- hopefully people who are watching think we're doing more of this, is that's really what it was created to do in 2008. one of our missions, if you look at section 11 of the ig act, the integrity and efficiency, is training, but the other important mission statement there is looking at issues that cross-cut our own individual agencies to broader questions like cyber-related issues. and that's something we're doing more of. earlier this year we issued our first ever top management challenges report, taking all 60 plus ig's that issued such reports and consolidating them and writing a report about the seven biggest issues we saw
across the ig community. we are talking about and doing more cyber related work. we did a review about devices and mobile devices and how agencies did -- address those issues. so, i think there is a mechanism in place. i think we as a community need to do more of that kind of work. >> and speaking, when you're raising the question about rli's, we issued a report this year where we were raising questions about congressionally mandated annual reports and there were 22 them and the way that roi's is often captured which varies from ig to ig, also, is money that could be saved, is not necessarily saved. so, i'm glad you're raising that issue and that's something that congress needs to-- we're looking forward to
working with the congress on fixing some of that so i can focus on more important issues. >> and i'll just before we ask questions and before i forget, give a mention to oversight.gov which i think is something hopefully everybody here is following and looking at and knows about. but i think it's one of the most significant advances in the community and will help foster that kind of cross-cutting work because one of the things that it allows me to do as an ig is see what 73 ig's are doing. i don't have to go to each web page to find out what they're doing. i now see every day and get ideas from what other ig's are doing, and thinking about and my teams are having that benefit from the web page as well. so, that's something that's very helpful to us, hopefully, and i think it's been given the feedback, to the policy makers whether it's in the executive branch and congress or to the oversight community to see what we're doing and we take ideas from all comers.
it doesn't have to be the chair of a committee or the ranking member or a member of congress or the attorney general, asking us to do something, we get requested from the public. we get requests, as you know, from pogo and oversight organizations. we want to get that kind of input and hear from folks. >> all right. okay. yes. let let's-- rebecca, going to come to you with the mic. >> hi, i'm kevin, former ig at architect of the capitol. my question, and looking at the title of the discussion, which is from watergate to today, the hall mark violation in watergate or one of them, was the presidential misuse and abuse of federal agencies. are ig's today equipped to deal with that kind of, you know,
either direction from the white house 0 the attorney general that you've got to look into certain area? or a direction to the irs or direction to other agencies? can an ig -- is an ig situated to look into that and perhaps challenge it? >> so we have particularly after the ig empowerment act, the tool of looking into all the records of our agencies. to be clear, and this came up in fast and furious where the obama white house did not allow us to look at white house records, we're not the ig over the executive office of the president. there's no ig for the office of the president much like there's no ig for congress and no ig for the judiciary. so we -- so we can look at the records in our agency and
follow up, and there have been several reviews that have gone on in the last several years of actions by agency leadership that have raised concerns. the hhs oig did a review of their secretary who resigned shortly after. the epa ig did vee reviews of their leadership and action and others did the same. i think we're equipped to do the work reviewing our mandate under the statute and i think going back to the question of congressional requests or other requests, i think it's very important for people to understand what are we authorized to do under the ig act? and what are we not authorized to do? in my case, for example, the carve out for actions by lawyers. and as individuals, as ig's and as the 14,000 or so staff within the 73 ig's, the
foundation for what we do is the ig act. we're going to look at that, understand what's-- what we're authorized to do and what we're not authorized to do and stay within those bounds and that's what-- we stand for the rule of law and we stand for those issues and we're certainly not going to stray from what the ig act tells us we can or can't do and frankly, you know, as you certainly know, and as others in the community-- in the oversight community know, those ig's have gotten themselves in trouble and either has failed to be independent as required by the ig act or, frankly, gone rogue in some respect and become untethered from their responsibilities under the ig act. we're not free actors to just go around and do whatever we think. we have a statute and we have something that grounds us. >> so, it also sounds a little like your question, the answer may be no.
[laughter] >> yes? kathleen? wait, one sec for the-- thank you. >> my name is kathleen clark. i'm wondering if you could speculate about what it would take for us to get an inspector general for the executive office of the presidency? and also, in that imagery world what an ig's jurisdiction could be in that setting, just as the justice department ig has circumscribed jurisdiction, you don't have authority over lawyer's conduct. can you spell out, again in the speculative world, a useful ig with some limited jurisdiction in the white house? >> i think i'm not going to go there and speculate because, again, i point out that, there isn't an ig for any of the
three branches of government at the highest levels of those organizations. there's -- there is one, but with, not with the same authorities, the statement was there is one in the house, but not under the ig act. i'm talking about a statutorily independent inspector general. none of them come with those authorities in any of the three branches at the highest levels and, obviously, any of the legislation, whether it was for congressional ig, a judicial ig, or an executive branch ig, would have to go through two houses of congress, be signed by the president and i'll leave it to others who are more attuned politically to decide what the success potential is of any of that. >> sharon? >> hi, sharon bradford franklin
with america's new open technology institute. i was interested in your remarks about the ability to look at return on investment, but you're looking at justice so it's different than the typic typical, waste fraud and abuse monetary assessment. i wonder what you think is more of a role for your office and also the ig's that cover the intelligence agencies to look at the efficacy of surveillance programs? so this came up with a lot with the section telephone programs. there were findings, it was ineffective and the intelligence agencies have made the valid point that, it's hard to say that any one case derived from one program or one source of intelligence. but it is important to measure efficacy. do you think that the ig's can play more of a role there? >> great question. what we're doing regularly in my office when we're doing
reviews, we're asking questions of managers and leaders of the components. what are your measurements for success? what are you-- beyond-- back to the other question, just outputs. we did, and at the justice department traditionally, the answer was always, well, we indicted a thousand people. or we prosecuted and convicted this number of people. that's useful to know. it's an important figure to understand. but it's not the be all and end-all of the discussion and what we've found and we've reported on regularly is that there really aren't many measures beyond output measures of the programs we've looked at. but it is a question we are asking and in our reports, national security reports, many of which don't see the full light of day, but they do go to congress, we seek to include that kind of information and i think our 702 and our 215
reports that we've done on the fbi's use of those authorities, national security letter authorities, what was the exigent letter report. 12, 13, 14 years ago, has had an impact and has been an important measure and has been, i think, from our interactions with congress, very useful as they thought about how to revise those programs. so, i think ig's are well equipped to ask the questions. we're obviously not the ones who are going to put in place the metrics. that's for management to figure out how they're measuring success and what those measures are, but we are there to assess them and to, i think, at the core of our responsibilities, report out on whether those are the effective measurements. >> alex howard. .
>> good morning. alex howard, independent for the moment. two questions. the first is thank you for oversight.gov, but i don't think all ig's are participating in it quite yet. as you know, many reports are still being fought by advocates under the foia. have you seen more ig's post their reports and start being involved in that? if not, when and where is that going to change? you say you post data on it as well, but when you look at it, the reports themselves are pdf's there's a bunch of fields. do you think you'll be complying with the 2013 executive order to make the underlying data for the site available? and then the second, to what extent are you empowered to evaluate whether agency officials are acting ethically and a proactive basis? for instance, if they limited funding to an ongoing investigation or have been properly recused themselves where they have a conflict of interest? >> so, on the first question
about oversight.goch gov, i'm glad you asked that. the only ones that weren't participating were in the intelligence community and didn't post published reports and the branch of ig's which aren't kofrpd covered the same way under the act. in one year since we launched, three intelligence ig's for the first time have issued semi annual reports that are public and posted to oversight.gov so we had the national security agency, the defense intelligence agency and the national reconnaissance agency all start posting reports publicly, i think in part due to oversight.gov so we now have
70 of 73 ig's on board. so every ig that posts public reports are now posting them to oversight.gov and we're all thinking about ways to be more transparent and how can we make more information available to the public. on your second question about the underlying data. that's something that we've talked about and we've not only gotten the request from folks outside the ig community, but also people inside who are working on data and lit-- analytics and how can we make that more for use for those inside and outside of the community and that's one of the enhancements we'd like to do. one of the things we're hoping for that was in the senate appropriations bill that is-- for one of the handful of bills that has not yet been passed, there's money in that bill, $2
million, to fund several enhancements to oversight.gov that would allow us to move forward on open recommendations and some of the other issues that we'd very much like to go forward on and to be clear for those of you who don't know, we basically built oversight.gov on the volunteer efforts of many ig's who came together because not appropriated. we used to platform that had been built professional by the postal ig and with the help on the technology side and other ig's on the sort of working group side we were able to move forward with it. it's a pretty -- from a tech standpoint, it's a pretty basic web page. for the ig community it was a huge step forward, but it's still a pretty basic platform which we recognize and would love to be able to do some of the things that you've mentioned and some others as well. in terms of the final
questions, you know, we have the tools and the authorities under the ig act and when requests come in that are within our baliwick and we've assessed them as the kinds of reviews we should be doing because they relate to important issues that ig's are well equipped to handle and do, you know, i think we will consider them in the sort of bucket of information and requests we get. but in terms of legal authority, i don't think we have, with the ig impairment act being challenged, with legal authority, several ig's are dealing with budget issues and other kinds of issues. we would like to see testimo testimonial subpoena authority and that is something that's important, but i think otherwise we're well equipped under the ig act to move
forward. >> thank you. hi. federal news network. not to put too fine a point on what the doj ig does and does not plan to look into in the future i know house and senate democrats over the last month or so sent out letters requesting that your office looks into the future of the fbi headquarters, looking at plans to keep it in d.c. as opposed to a suburban maryland or virginia plan. in terms of just the dollars and cents of which plan makes the most cents, is that something that falls into the purview of your office or is it-- does it go back to the political battle score settling that you had mentioned kind of at the top? >> well, i'll save my answer and responses to the congressional letters for congress and speak with them about their requests. but generally speaking, again,
the issues that relate to construction issues and issues related to contracting, we look at, for example, with the federal bureau of prisons. those issues come up there. so, partly, it will depend on, as with most or with many requests we get, they are complex and they raise multiple issues and sometimes we sort through them. the election review was a good example. we got a lot of different requests looking to do a lot of different things and we laid out what we were going to do and explained what we weren't going to do and we would do the same, i think, in any kind of request like that: but certainly, you know, questions that come up about how the justice department is spending their money or potentially spending money and how they handled certain issues would be, you know, construction related issues, for example, we deal with at the pop. >> last question the gentleman in the back. >> oh, i'm sorry. i couldn't see you, you're
behind liz. >> hi, i'm ann laurent. so we're expecting an avalanche of oversight from congress in january, beginning in january. what-- how would you advise staff and members to most effectively use all of the means available to them to accomplish that goal, with speed? because obviously having 10,000 investigations dragging on forever is not a good thing for everybody. that is to say, how do you all work together, gao, congressional staff with their hearing and litigation ability, the ig committee and god knows there's probably others i'm not naming. how is the office, for example, effectively looking out at that and saying here is how i'm going to deploy against the issues that are the most important, knowing that the ig guys are going to have their pick whether they take it or not.
gao i can order around, but they have a lot of stuff to do and my own staff is five people and has 4,000 things and you know, four of them aren't even lawyers. . >> great question. so, one of the things we make sure we do, we have quarterly meanings with gao, the teams that oversee justice, department of justice to make sure that we're coordinated and not duplicating effort and obviously issues that they're asked to do, we're asked to do and we have a very strong working relationship and on a broader scale, at the level we have allison lerner, vice chair, the national science foundation and myself and the leadership at gao to talk about the broader issues that cross-cut the ig community and make sure we're coordinated and not stepping on each other's work and not duplicating, most importantly, each other's work. in terms of congressional
oversight and asks, i guess i finish where i started, i think one of the things that can frustrate congress when dealing with ig's and i think to some extent gao, we're not going to turn around and answer in a month. we're not going to give the answer in two months even. it's going to take months for us to get the records, go through them, interview people, we're going to issue a thorough report. we can't be scene as just responding to a political concern. we want to think about-- we talked about earlier some of the bigger picture issues we were looking at as well, particularly if we see them as we're starting and going into that review. so, that can be a frustration for oversight committees that were not, you know, turned around immediately, approached. it can be a frustration for our agency's leadership and component's leadership and we're not this that mode of
just turning things around quickly. so, i think for staff, i would say, it's important to think about what kind of product do we deliver, and what kind of product would be useful for us to handle as whether it's soly or as follow-up to another, to a congressional hearing, i think one of the things i've seen frequently, not all the time, i've testified six and a half years probably approaching 40 times at hearings, is in many instances, again, not all, little follow-up. we have a good hearing based on our findings, other people at the panels who are policy makers, members talking policy, good give and take, bipartisan agreement, discussion about the important issues. but often times i always wonder
what happened next and many occasions they're on to-- you know, everybody's onto the next issue, whether it's members of congress or the agency leadership, and that's something i hope that folks step back and think about. not just let's have a hearing and call it a day, but what do we learn at the hearing, because what i've also learned in this job at every single hearing, the question i get from both sides, doesn't really matter who's-- which administration it was that was in power, who's in charge, it's how do we fix the problem? what can we do legislatively to fix the problem. they're always talking that and thinking that. the question, is there that follow through. >> well, please join me in thanking michael for taking off today. [applause] >> so, we are now going to have on the third floor immediately following the session, we are demonstrating
pogo's pentagon resolving door data base starting now and 9:45 we are going to have three breakouts all on the third floor, also. the first is open technology institute's panel on oversight of intelligence and law enforcement surveillance, technology and other challenges will take place in room 3-ab. the campaign legal center discussion we'll see you in court, litigation tool for oversight and accountability room 3-c and demand process session on reorganizing the house for oversight will take place in room 3-de. so we'll see you upstairs. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> the project on government oversight's conference on oversight of the federal government will continue later today on c-span2. we'll hear from former senator carl levin who chaired the permanent subcommittee on oversight. we'll also hear from the inspector general of the national security agency. that will be live here on c-span2 beginning at 1:00 p.m. eastern. >> join us this weekend for live coverage. miami book fair, starting saturday at 10 a.m. eastern, with journalists discussing the book "russian roulette". >> and at noon, sonya sotomayor, with her book "turning pages", and trump 2020, campaign advisor,
discusses "mad politics". at 3:45, jonah goldberg with his book "suicide of the west". sunday 11:15 a.m. alisa court on the middle class with her book "squeezed". at 2:55 p.m. fox news politics editor chris stirewalt discusses his book "every man a king". at 6 p.m. former secretary of state john kerry with his memoir "every day is extra" watch the miami book fair live this weekend on c-span2's book tv. . >> department of homeland security officials and the military's top cyber commander testify before a joint hearing on capitol hill earlier this week about cyber threats that are facing the nation. the armed services subcommittee on emerging threats and the homeland security subcommittee on cyber security held this nearly 90 minute