Republican Senator Sees Broader Role For Inspectors General, GAO in Oversight

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By Anthony Adragna

May 7 — Senate oversight of federal agencies will rely more heavily on the work of inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office to root out waste, fraud and abuse, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told Bloomberg BNA May 7.

Rounds, the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, said he would like to rely more on the existing work of the inspectors general and GAO in overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“In the past, I think the inspectors general have not been utilized fully and, in some cases, it would appear they have not had the ear of the subcommittee to go through,” Rounds said in an interview. “I don’t intend to have a flash in the pan where we’re out looking for something to make a headline. What I want is good government.”

Rounds said he wants to improve the function of the federal agencies. That may not mean introducing new legislation but instead ensuring that existing rules and procedures are used properly.

The full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, under the chairmanship of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), is going in the “right direction” of examining specific agency rulemakings and regulations, Rounds said, adding he sees his role as digging deep into the function of federal agencies and making sure they are effectively following existing rules and procedures.

Not Flashy, But Vital, Work 

“A lot of this is going to put some people to sleep, but the reality is good government will sometimes do that,” Rounds said. “[It] doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach it that way. There’s a difference between somebody who can stand up and be bombastic and a committee that sits down, takes off their coats, rolls up their shirt sleeves and gets the work done. And that’s what I really see this subcommittee doing.”

Inhofe selected Rounds to chair the Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight in late January.

The South Dakota Republican joined the Senate in January after having previously served as governor of the Mount Rushmore State from 2003 through 2011.

Rounds believes he will be able to find strong bipartisan support for his subcommittee's work and expects to work closely with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), ranking member of the subcommittee.

“Waste, fraud and abuse is something neither party wants to see,” Rounds said. “There is no such thing as a system in which somebody is not going to do something wrong. The question is whether or not the rules are there in place and whether or not they are the correct rules.”

Rounds Has No Preconceptions About Problems 

Rounds also said he has no preconceptions about likely problems within the agencies and plans to scrutinize them equally.

“I don’t have a plan to focus on one versus the other,” Rounds said. “I won’t start out assuming anything. I’ll start out by getting the investigations done first.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at