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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 15, 1996.
Independent Counsel Accountability and Reform Act of 1996 - Amends the Federal judicial code to require specific information from a credible source sufficient to constitute grounds to investigate whether a person covered by the independent counsel statute (the Act) has violated specified criminal laws. Authorizes the Attorney General (AG) to issue subpoenas duces tecum in conducting preliminary investigations. Repeals provisions authorizing the AG to make certain determinations during such preliminary investigations. Requires the division of the court that appoints an independent counsel (IC) to: (1) define with specificity the IC's prosecutorial jurisdiction; and (2) assure that the IC has adequate authority to fully investigate and prosecute the alleged violations of criminal law with respect to which the AG has requested the appointment as well as matters directly related to such criminal violations. Requires such court division to award attorney's fees when an individual is acquitted of all charges or no conviction is obtained against such individual, or when a conviction at a trial is overturned on appeal. Requires the Administrator of General Services (currently, the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts) to provide appropriate administrative support to ICs under the Act, including the provision of adequate office space. Requires an IC to: (1) comply with Department of Justice policies concerning the release of information relating to criminal proceedings; (2) limit office expenditures to a two-year period, unless an appropriations Act specifically makes funds available for such expenditures after the end of such period; (3) follow U.S. Government procedures regarding the treatment of classified information; and (4) refrain from engaging in outside legal work during the period of appointment as an IC. Eliminates certain IC reporting requirements. Revises provisions concerning the removal, termination, and periodic reappointment of an IC. Requires quarterly reports to specified congressional committees on aggregate amounts expended by an IC in the previous quarter. Provides travel expense reimbursements for successive six-month periods during the period of appointment as an IC.