Senate Bill 527, sponsored by Senator Ryan Aument, passed the Senate today with strong bipartisan support. The bill will provide the Office of Inspector General with greater authority and independence to investigate and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars.
Currently, the Office of Inspector General operates under Executive Order and could be eliminated at any time. Aument’s bill would establish the Office of Inspector General by statute, and broaden the office’s authority to bring criminal charges, issue subpoenas and investigate and eliminate fraud in human services programs.
“Too often, lawmakers spend too much time talking about how to spend money instead of discussing ways to save money,” Aument said. “The Inspector General is one of the first lines of defense in preventing our tax dollars from being wasted and abused. Ensuring this office can continue to operate, without undue political influence being placed upon it, is the best way to make certain our tax dollars are used wisely and that state government is operated in an appropriate manner.”
Under Aument’s legislation, the Inspector General could not seek elected office during their tenure and would have to meet minimum qualification standards. Additionally, the legislation gives the Inspector General’s Office its own line-item appropriation and provides that the Inspector General may be removed by the governor for cause.
The Office of Inspector General would also be required to report to the General Assembly each year with information regarding investigations conducted and money saved and recovered by the office, providing valuable feedback to lawmakers on government programs and operations.
“I am proud to support an idea originally offered by Democrat Governor Bob Casey,” said Aument, referring to the Executive Order originally authored in 1987. “I am hopeful that with the compromises offered today in response to the Governor’s veto last year of similar legislation, we can move forward in a manner that promotes something everyone agrees with – that cheaters should never win.”