House Approves GAO Role in Intelligence Oversight

The House of Representatives last week approved an amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization Act that would require the Director of National Intelligence to cooperate with the Government Accountability Office in the performance of audits and investigations that are requested by the congressional intelligence committees.

The House voted 218-210 in favor of the measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo and several colleagues.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) spoke in opposition to the amendment, which he said would risk a veto of the defense bill by the Obama White House, and could undermine the Director of National Intelligence.  Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) spoke in favor of the amendment, but he expressed concern that it permitted only the intelligence committees to task the GAO to perform oversight of an intelligence program or activity.  He said that any committee with relevant jurisdiction should be able to do the same.

The May 27 floor debate and vote on the Eshoo amendment may be found here.

A 2008 congressional hearing chaired by Senator Akaka on the potential role of the GAO in intelligence oversight is here.