Foreign Relations Subcommittee Chairman David Perdue Chairs First Hearing On State Department Oversight
Calls For Making State Department More Effective, Transparent, & Accountable
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) today led the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development’s first hearing on the operational effectiveness of the State Department. The Inspector General for the U.S. State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors, Steve Linick, testified about the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) efforts, initiatives, and challenges in performing adequate oversight.
“Georgians sent me to Washington to make the federal government more effective, transparent, and accountable. Today’s hearing is part of our Congressional oversight authority. It is my hope that this first hearing and the bipartisan work of this subcommittee will help uncover ways we can improve and streamline oversight at the State Department in order to support the men and women who serve our country here at home and around the world.
“The Office of the Inspector General was designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and has laudably found ways to save taxpayers millions of dollars. However, they do not have autonomy or independence to conduct adequate oversight. Given the important mission of the State Department, it’s outrageous that Mr. Linick and his team are not given full authority to hold a department of 72,000 employees accountable. As chairman of this subcommittee, my goal is to improve the overall operational effectiveness of the State Department and provide greater transparency and accountability for the American people.”
In January, Senator Perdue was named Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee which oversees the budget and operations of the State Department and USAID.
Click here to watch Senator Perdue’s introductory remarks:
Senator Perdue: “My first question follows some testimony that you gave about 2012 and the attacks there on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, the OIG since then has stepped up its oversight efforts since then, can you describe what those efforts are to improve the physical security, and also how do you go about evaluating the security of other embassies around the world?”
Linick: “We found in that report that after reviewing 126 recommendations from 12 different Accountability Review Boards between Dar es Salaam and Benghazi, forty percent of the recommendations were repeat recommendations pertaining to security, intelligence gathering, and training. We found the reason why that occurred is because of a lack of sustained commitment over the years by department principals in making sure recommendations were implemented. In fact, we found many of the same recommendations in the Accountability Review Board for Benghazi to be the same recommendations.”
Senator Perdue: “In terms of improving effectiveness of the State Department, if you had the top two or three priorities, what would you recommend based on all the work you’ve been doing?”
Linick: “In terms of items that would help the IG performance job, I would say there are two issues that come to mind. Number one is our ability to get early notification of misconduct involving serious or criminal activity, and our ability to investigate that, at least decide whether we are going to investigate that, and return it back to the Department. So that’s our number one. The second issue is what I mentioned in my oral testimony is IT independence. We really need to be independent from the Department. We have a lot of sensitive information on our network. So I would say those two things would be on the top of my list.”
Senator Perdue: “Do you have evidence that the State Department’s network has been attacked, and does that affect you guys?”
Linick: “There is evidence it has been attacked, and it has affected us. I can’t really go into details because of the nature of the information.”
Senator Perdue: “You mentioned that there have been attacks on the State Department’s network and that compromises the IG’s work relative to being on the same network. Can you talk about that in a little more detail? And talk about what you’re doing to protect your independence and whether you need to be totally independent on a separate network or what is your recommendation, or what are you doing to protect IG’s independence?
Linick: “Your point is well taken. To the extent that the Department suffers from attacks – we suffer from attacks because we’re on the same network. We’ve taken a number of steps since I’ve been in office. First of all, we’ve asked the Department to agree not to come on to our system without asking permission. And finally, we’ve gotten that agreement from the Department. But we need more than that. Because right now, we’re sort of in a gated community, if you will, where we rent our IT system and the IT folks at the Department have the keys to our IT system. So they really have unfettered access to the system. If they wanted to, they could read, modify, delete any of our work.”
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