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Stephen L.
Democrat MA 8

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  • Opm Ig Act

    by Representative Stephen F. Lynch

    Posted on 2014-01-14

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    LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the ranking member for yielding.

    First of all, I want to say that as the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, I rise in strong support of Mr. Farenthold's measure here, H.R. 2860, the OPM Inspector General Act, legislation that will enhance oversight of the background check process for the issuance of government security clearances.

    At the outset as well, I would like to thank the subcommittee chairman, Mr. Farenthold, for working in a bipartisan manner to sponsor H.R. 2860. I would also like to thank our full committee chairman, Mr. Issa, and ranking member, Mr. Cummings, the gentleman from Maryland, for their hard work and their leadership on this legislation as well.

    Recent events involving Edward Snowden and his leaking of classified information and as well Aaron Alexis and the tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard have called attention to the need to reexamine and improve the Federal Government's background investigation and security clearance process.

    H.R. 2860 is a key component of our examinations. This legislation provides the Inspector General of the Office of Personnel Management with the resources that he needs to assist Congress in our review and oversight of a process that is critical within our national security framework.

    We rely heavily on our Inspectors General. They are at the front lines of investigating fraud, waste, and abuse in government programs. We as Members of the legislature rely heavily on them in getting accurate information.

    In particular, H.R. 2860 would give the Office of Personnel Management the authority to access a portion of OPM's revolving fund to pay for audits, investigations, and oversight of the agency's revolving fund program, which includes the Federal Government's background investigations process, their leadership training, and personnel management solutions.

    I think OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland did a great job on this in making us aware of the necessity for this legislation. During a June 2013 Federal Workforce Subcommittee hearing, as has been noted, Mr. McFarland stated that his office was handicapped in its ability to conduct proper oversight of the OPM's revolving fund activities.

    Under existing law, the Inspector General's oversight costs cannot be charged to the revolving fund. As a result, for fiscal year 2013, the Inspector General had only available $3 million to conduct oversight of OPM's program involving $2 billion.

    Because of these limited resources, the OPM Inspector General was not able to thoroughly investigate issues regarding falsification of background investigations, conduct audits of the revolving fund, or examine the fund's high-risk areas.

    However, H.R. 2860, if enacted, would allow the OPM Inspector General's oversight costs to be paid from the revolving fund up to a maximum of one-third of 1 percent of OPM's revolving fund budget. Assuming a revolving budget of $2 billion, the Inspector General may be authorized to receive up to a maximum of $6.6 million to fund oversight costs.

    {time} 1430 Common sense indicates that giving the OPM Inspector General authority for this funding is a sensible and prudent investment. Moreover, if national security is implicated, the importance of preventing or mitigating national security threats is, of course, immeasurable.

    Let me also add that this proposal was included in the President's fiscal year 2014 budget request, and the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, substantially similar legislation last October. In addition, a provision granting the OPM Inspector General access to the revolving fund was included in the omnibus appropriation bill released just last night. I would note, however, that that provision expires after 1 year.

    So Mr. Farenthold's legislation, which I have cosponsored, is incredibly important and should be adopted. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join with myself and Mr. Cummings and Mr. Farenthold.

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