the Department of Justice. The core mission of the IG is to assist Congress with
its constitutional oversight role.
Additional activities, even worthwhile and nec-
essary ones, raise serious questions about IG independence and interfere with this
important institution’s core purpose. For an OIG to do its work effectively and as
Congress intended, it must retain its independence—which is threatened by “reg-
ulatory enforcement” activities.
The Constitution is silent about Congressional oversight, but it is among the
chief responsibilities of the legislative branch.
Inspectors General are among
Congress’ most important tools for overseeing government because IGs are hard-
wired into the Executive Branch.
They are the “eyes and ears”
of the public
inside federal agencies. After more than forty years, they have deep relationships
(or the capacity to form deep relationships) with their congressional committees
of jurisdiction and deep expertise in the workings of their host agencies.
IGs are a unique institution within the Executive Branch, so there is no single
lens through which to study them. IGs are not featured in Administrative Law
and research into their work tends to focus on their history or man-
rather than on their unique function as an arm of Congressional
oversight with all the attendant complexities.
This article furthers a project of
5. See infra Sec. I.
6. See Trump v. Mazars, 140 S.Ct. 2019, 2031 (2020) (“Congress has no enumerated constitutional
power to conduct investigations . . . but we have held that each House has power ‘to secure needed
information’ in order to legislate.”) (internal citations omitted). The “power of inquiry—with process to
enforce it—is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.” Id. Without information,
“Congress would be shooting in the dark, unable to legislate ‘wisely or effectively.’” Id.
7. See 166 CONG. REC. S3,88–89 (daily ed. June 18, 2020) (prepared remarks of Sen. Grassley)
(Congress “cannot perform [its] constitutional mandate of oversight without [IGs]”) [hereinafter
statement of Sen. Grassley].
8. 161 CONG. REC. 20,168 (2015) (statement of Sen. Johnson, Chairman, S. Comm. on Homeland
Sec. & Governmental Aff.) [hereinafter Sen. Johnson statement].
9. See generally MICHAEL ASIMOW & RONALD M. LEVIN, STATE AND FEDERAL ADMINISTRATIVE
LAW (5th ed. 2020) (no references to IGs in table of contents or index); STEPHEN G. BREYER ET AL.,
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW AND REGULATORY POLICY: PROBLEMS, TEXT, AND CASES (8th ed. 2017) (no
references to IGs in table of contents); RONALD A. CASS ET AL., ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: CASES AND
MATERIALS (8th ed. 2020) (no references to IGs in teacher’s manual); JERRY L. MASHAW ET AL.,
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW, THE AMERICAN PUBLIC LAW SYSTEM, CASES AND MATERIALS (8th ed. 2020) (no
references to IGs in table of contents; brieﬂy discussed at pp.140–41); ANDREW F. POPPER ET AL.,
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: A CONTEMPORARY APPROACH (3d ed. 2016) (no references to IGs in table of
contents or index); JOHN M. ROGERS ET AL., ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (4th ed. 2020) (no references to IGs
in table of contents or teacher’s manual); BERNARD SCHWARTZ ET AL., ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: A
CASEBOOK (9th ed. 2018) (no references to IGs in teacher’s manual).
10. See infra note 21. Earlier literature on Inspectors General is cited in William Fields, The Enigma
of Bureaucratic Accountability, 43 Cath. U. L. Rev. 505 (1994) (reviewing Paul C. Light, MONITORING
GOVERNMENT: INSPECTORS GENERAL AND THE SEARCH FOR ACCOUNTABILITY (1993) [hereinafter
11. One exception is “The Role of Inspectors General in Congressional Oversight,” conference
sponsored by the Levin Center at Wayne Law (June 13, 2018), available at https://law.wayne.edu/levin-
center/conferences#deﬁnition-76226 (last visited August 28, 2020) (Inspectors General are “absolutely
2021] CHALLENGES TO THE INDEPENDENCE OF INSPECTORS GENERAL 213