FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Mattleman Kaplan
Interim President and CEO
(215) 470-8316 (cell)
CITY TAXPAYERS DESERVE PERMANENT INSPECTOR GENERAL
Watchdog says OIG should have oversight over all city government
PHILADELPHIA – October 7, 2014 – The Committee of Seventy today urged City Council to enact, and send to city voters for approval, a pending proposed amendment to the City Charter to create a permanent and independent Inspector General. A proposal introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney on January 24, 2013 sits without action in Council’s Law and Government Committee.
Seventy’s call comes after today’s signing by Mayor Michael Nutter of an executive order to continue the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which roots out corruption, fraud, misconduct and waste in city government. The OIG’s oversight extends to all departments, agencies, boards and commissions under the mayor’s jurisdiction. City Council and the independently elected row offices are not covered.
“The OIG should have oversight over every city department funded by the taxpayers’ dollars,” said Ellen Kaplan, Seventy’s Interim President and CEO. Elected and appointed city employees, as well as city contractors, have nothing to fear if they are doing their jobs honestly.”
“Executive orders can easily be undone by a new mayor,” Kaplan continued. She pointed out that one reported mayoral hopeful – City Controller Alan Butkovitz – has openly questioned whether the OIG duplicates work conducted by his own office. “Just because the OIG has existed for three decades within the mayor’s office does not guarantee it will continue to exist.”
According to Kaplan, the Committee of Seventy will be issuing an ethics agenda to the 2015 candidates for mayor and City Council asking for their commitment to a Charter-sanctioned, independent Inspector General. “But we hope we don’t have to wait until the next set of city leaders in January 2016 to get this done,” she said. “A proposal is already on the table. This City Council should allow it to be publicly debated to enable recommendations to strengthen its independence and effectiveness. The survival of an office as critical to the integrity of government as the OIG should not depend on who happens to be the mayor.”
The Committee of Seventy is a non-partisan government watchdog fighting for clean and effective government, fair elections and informed citizens. For more information, see www.seventy.org.