The relationship between Congress and various federal agencies has clearly gotten worse in recent years.
Actions by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform appear to reflect this lack of trust.
In a letter to the Department of Justice, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is asking the agency Inspector General for information involving an investigation by the IG regarding confidential informants from Amtrak and the Transportation Security Administration. According to the letter from Congressman Chaffetz, DEA improperly paid two confidential informants $854,460 for information that DEA should have obtained at no cost because the agencies have an information sharing agreement.
The Committee is inquiring about the extent of the misconduct and any action taken against employees as a result of any misconduct that occurred.
While the letter itself is very short and to the point, attached to the letter are four pages of instructions detailing how the search for information should be conducted, terms to use in the search, and an outline of what should be done in the event is no longer in the agency’s possession. This follows a similar letter sent out by the Committee to various agency heads regarding official time used by union representatives.
Obviously, the Committee does not trust the agency to perform the search and expects that the information may not be forthcoming.
While the letter does not outline why this is the case, various hearings involving agencies including the Internal Revenue Service to the Department of Justice have run into problems with agencies providing requested information. Information that was said to be unavailable has turned up later in lawsuits or based on subsequent events.
We can infer from this letter to the DOJ that committee staffers are trying to cover their bases to request information in anticipation of the agency attempting to evade responding after having done a thorough investigation.
No doubt, this lack of trust or lack of respect between Congress and federal agencies does not contribute to an effective or efficient government. Nevertheless, that appears to be the stage we are in now as the machinery of government slowly grinds along.