Senate Bill Would Enable GAO to Aid Intelligence Oversight

10.05.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A bill introduced by Congressional Democrats would empower the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to perform financial audits and other oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies, a function that those agencies have long resisted.

“Since 9/11, effective [intelligence] oversight is needed now more than ever,” said Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) in a September 28 floor statement.

“However, now the Congress cannot do its job properly, in part, because its key investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, is not given adequate access to the intelligence community.”

“Unfortunately, the intelligence community stonewalls the GAO when committees of jurisdiction request that GAO investigate problems,” Sen. Akaka said.

“If the GAO had been able to conduct basic auditing functions of the CIA, perhaps some of the problems that were so clearly exposed following the terrorist attacks in September 2001 would have been resolved. And yet, it is extraordinary that five years after 9-11 the same problems persist,” he said.

He introduced two related Congressional Research Service memoranda into the Congressional Record: one on “Congressional Oversight of Intelligence” and another on “Overview of ‘Classified’ and ‘Sensitive But Unclassified’ Information.”

See Sen. Akaka’s full September 28 statement on “The Intelligence Community Audit Act of 2006.”

If nothing else, the Akaka bill may provide a clue as to the direction of intelligence oversight in the future, if Democrats take control of Congress.

Under current leadership, intelligence oversight has fractured and decayed. For the second year in a row, Congress failed to pass an intelligence authorization bill this year.