WASHINGTON — At least three federal agencies have hindered the oversight efforts of independent watchdogs by limiting their access to records, according to a complaint from more than half of the government’s inspectors general.

The officials, 47 of them, signed a letter to congressional oversight leaders on Tuesday saying the Justice Department, the Peace Corps and the Chemical Safety Board have withheld information on the basis that it was privileged. The inspectors general, several of whom were nominated by President Barack Obama, said such interpretations of the law represent “potentially serious challenges to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

The Inspector General Act of 1978 ensures that inspectors general have “complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials … without unreasonable administrative burdens,” the letter said.

Officials received the requested records but said the delays impeded their reviews. They said that watchdogs from other agencies have “faced similar obstacles to their work.”

According to the letter, the Justice Department withheld records that its inspector general requested for three reviews, but ultimately handed over the information based on a finding that the probes would assist its leaders.