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Monday, July 15th, 2024

Rep. Lynch introduces bill to provide congressional oversight into the use of confidential informants

Stephen Lynch

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced this week the Confidential Informant Accountability Act (H.R. 1857), a bill to require extensive congressional oversight over the selection and use of confidential informants by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The bill was cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and supported by the Project on Government Oversight.

Lynch’s bill stems from a September 2016 report by the Office of the Department of Justice Inspector General, which stated that there were more than 18,000 informants in the DEA, 9,500 of whom received approximately $237 million in payments provided by the agency. Both agencies rely heavily on the use of confidential informants who receive little to no agency supervision.

The bill would specifically require federal law enforcement agencies to fully report to Congress their payments to confidential informants, as well as the amounts received by each agency through their cooperation with those informants. It would also require federal law enforcement agencies to report all serious crimes committed by confidential informants, accounting for totals of each type and category of crime.

The legislation would additionally seek to safeguard the integrity of continuing investigations and the identities of confidential informants by prohibiting the release of informant names and control numbers.

“In response to reports of waste, fraud and abuse in confidential informant programs at law enforcement agencies, it is critical that we enhance congressional oversight of human sources,” Lynch said. “The Confidential Informant Accountability Act will improve transparency, accountability and safety in confidential informant programs.”