June 08, 2015

Senators Perdue and Kaine Introduce Bipartisan State Department Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, Internal Operations, and Bilateral International Development, today introduced the Improving Department of State Oversight Act, a bipartisan bill that will facilitate necessary changes to improve the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conduct more secure and more effective oversight. Currently, the OIG is not notified of all allegations of State Department wrongdoing and operates on a shared network with the State Department, making OIG information vulnerable to both internal and external threats.

“Conducting Congressional oversight is critical to making Washington more accountable, and a good place to start is at the scandal-ridden State Department,” said Senator Perdue. “The State OIG must be able to conduct thorough, independent investigations on the State Department without obstruction from the very individuals who might warrant investigating. Making the OIG more independent is an important first step in turning our State Department from a liability into its proper role as a strategic foreign policy tool. This bipartisan bill will help make sure the OIG is fully independent and empowered to conduct critical oversight of the State Department’s IT systems and high-risk posts around the world.”

“Effective management and accountability are key to the success of our institutions,” said Senator Kaine. “This legislation would make commonsense reforms that improve oversight at the State Department and help protect the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General IT systems from external cyber threats.” 

In April, Senators Perdue and Kaine led the Subcommittee’s first hearing about the ongoing challenges in performing adequate oversight of the State Department. IG Steve Linick testified that State administrators “could read, modify, delete any of our work.” The IG systems are vulnerable to external threats as well, Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom confirmed that the State’s IT systems “are attacked every day, thousands of times a day.”

Specifically, the Improving Department of State Oversight Act requires the State Department:

  • Notify the State OIG of all allegations of misconduct (criminal or administrative) by State employees.
  • Provide the State OIG with better access to the experience and skillset of former Special Inspector General employees.
  • Assure independence of the State OIG’s IT systems from that of the State Department’s, to ensure integrity of internal files regarding investigations.
  • Require a report regarding the frequency of inspections on high-risk posts abroad.

Click here to read the bill in its entirety.