Federal inspectors general routinely publish their findings online. This helps hold federal agencies to account by creating public and internal pressure to address the concerns raised by the IG and creating a record should they fail to fix problems. However, the Capitol Police Inspector General is one of a handful of IGs that withholds their reports from the public. On Monday, Demand Progress wrote to the committees that oversee the Capitol Police to request they direct the Capitol Police Inspector General to publish its final reports online.
The unavailability of Capitol Police Inspector General reports is a longstanding problem, and one that has previously received congressional attention. Congress requested as part of the FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act that the USCP IG review all IG reports from the previous three years and provide the Appropriations Committee a list of reports to be publicly released. At the same time, Appropriators encouraged the Capitol Police to institute a process by which USCP records, including IG reports, could be requested by the public. A further directive was included in the committee report accompanying the pending Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for FY 2022. Nevertheless, USCP IG reports still are not publicly available. It is likely that the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the IG, is responsible for directing the withholding of the reports.
Public accessibility to final IG reports would ensure accountability for agency programs and operations and create pressure on the agency to remedy waste, fraud, and abuse. It also would support public scrutiny and empower the press to shed light on further misbehaviors which would provide the agency with incentives to implement IG recommendations. As demonstrated by the January 6th security failures, undue secrecy at the Capitol Police has allowed for problematic activities and dysfunction to fester. The USCP must join inspectors general across the federal government in upholding these common sense transparency practices.