— Measure Seeks to Create a Statewide Inspector General –
For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 24, 2022
For More Information: Joseph Fulgham, 302-744-4184
A bill (see attached) soon to be introduced in the General Assembly aims to create the Office of Inspector General in The First State.
“The inspector general would be charged with investigating complaints of waste, fraud, abuse or corruption regarding state employees or state agencies,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Mike Smith (R-Pike Creek Valley). “While we have a state auditor and a state attorney general, this office would fill a gap in their coverage. The inspector general would work collaboratively with these agencies to provide more comprehensive accountability and serve as a point of contact where citizens could bring their concerns about government operations.”
Under the bill, the duties of the new office would include the following:
- Receive and investigate allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or corruption involving any state department, division, board, authority, bureau, commission, or council in state government.
- Create remedial action plans to prevent recurrences of fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption in agencies where these conditions have occurred.
- Protect those making good-faith reports of wrongdoing from possible retaliation
- Make public the results of all investigations conducted by the office.
- Conduct special investigations and management reviews of agencies.
- Conduct joint investigations and projects with other oversight or law enforcement agencies.
- Instruct agencies on the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption.
There are at least 11 states that already have an inspector general (IG) with statewide authority. There are a minimum of twenty-six states that have one or more agencies with an inspector general imbedded within the organization they monitor. Five states reportedly have IG offices at both the state and agency levels.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, there are currently 57 inspectors general operating on the federal level. The president appoints 29 of the IGs, who are confirmed by the Senate. The remaining 28 are appointed by their agency heads.
Under Rep. Smith’s proposal, the inspector general would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The bill states the inspector general would be selected without regard to political affiliation and based on integrity, capability for strong leadership, and his or her ability to understand and apply the principles of accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, investigation, and criminal justice administration.
“Inspectors general, on both the state and federal levels, are typically nominated by the chief executive or the head of the agency in which they are serving,” Rep. Smith said. “To ensure our office remains as objective and trustworthy as possible, my bill requires Senate confirmation of the nomination; that the IG share the results of all its investigations with the public; and that the office’s work be periodically checked and publicly critiqued by an independent organization. This bill is based on legislation and practices used elsewhere that have resulted in effective IG offices.”
The bill is expected to be circulated for sponsorship within the next few days and will be filed before the General Assembly next meets on April 5th.
“I am hopeful we will get broad, bipartisan sponsorship of this legislation,” Rep. Smith said. “I would welcome any lawmaker who wished to sign the bill as a prime sponsor or co-sponsor.”