Governor Jerry Brown is shutting down the State Inspector General's office. The Sacramento Bee has an article about it. (See below) You will recall that the Inspector General, Laura Chick, found extensive problems with the management of the California high-speed rail project.
Even if the mission of this office could have been performed by the Office of the State Auditor, these responsibilities were of such significance that Arnie established the office of IG in order to display California's determination to obtain and distribute federal stimulus funds in a transparent and responsible way.
Well, Arnie's real intentions were made clear when he vetoed those portions of the new budget that would have sustained the oversight of the State Legislature on the high-speed rail project. Laura Chick, the IG, found the CHSRA highly deficient in the performance of its duties and negligent with the use of those federal stimulus funds. Even though the office may have been merely for "show," Ms. Chick actually did her job.
Now Jerry Brown is shutting down this office. Arnie, who created the IG office, was also a bad boy, but in two weeks, he's gone. His veto was a clear message of contempt for accountability and oversight.
Now, our new Governor, a Democrat, mind you, is demonstrating his irresponsibility to hold his State government accountable by shutting down the Office of the Inspector General. If he intended these tasks to be assumed by the State Auditor, why doesn't he say so? And, why isn't he saying he will rescind Arnie's HSR veto which was intended to constrain the oversight of the Legislature?
What is the message, Governor-elect Brown? That you will see to it that we aren't going to have any accountability over HSR when you are in office? Nice way to start your new regime!!
Is this a first signal that the Democrats in the Executive suite are determined to ram HSR through, as lunatic as this project is, and despite all the criticism that has been leveled at it by the LAO, the Auditor, the IG, and most recently their own peer review committee?
I've been a Democrat all my life, one of the reasons being that I believe in accountability, oversight, and regulations that govern our various offices of government. I want transparency and honesty. I object to waste, fraud and abuse. A project like the high-speed rail project and the CHSRA that is ostensibly "managing" it obviously warrants the closest of inspections. Billions of taxpayer dollars are involved and there is a powerful likelihood that they will be wasted.
This is a very bad first step. And, we need to challenge the new Governor about it.
December 20, 2010
Gov.-elect Jerry Brown to eliminate stimulus watchdog office
Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has decided to eliminate the state's federal stimulus fund watchdog, the office of Inspector General Laura N. Chick announced today.
Calling the news an "unfortunate turn," Chick wrote in a letter released by the office that she has been informed by Brown's transition team that her position will be eliminated as of Jan. 1.
"The Governor-elect faces an extremely difficult job in grappling with the severity of the state budget crisis. He received an overwhelming mandate by the voters to make tough decisions, and I wish him the very best during the months ahead," Chick wrote.
Chick praised Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for creating the office in 2009. At the time, it California was the first state to dedicate an agency to tracking and overseeing the spending of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
"His creation of the Inspector General's Office to scrutinize the state's spending of stimulus dollars was unprecedented in the nation. With this singular move he put California in the lead in its oversight of these taxpayer dollars," she wrote. "Creating this office sent a potent message: We are watching."
The office has issued 27 reports that cited 100 issues in its capacity overseeing the spending of more than $50 billion in stimulus funds, Chick wrote.
Chick also penned a letter to Schwarzenegger and Brown including her observations about changes needed for more effective use of the funds, including the need for more coordination and cooperation between offices and clearer communication about requirements for applying for, receiving and reporting funding.
A member of Brown's transition team said in a statement that abolishing the inspector general's office, which is part of the governor's budget, at the beginning of the year will save the general fund $700,000, though Chick's office said some of that would be eligible for reimbursement from the federal government.
"In response to the state's multi-billion dollar budget deficit, Governor-elect Jerry Brown will be streamlining operations and eliminating redundancies in the Governor's Office and throughout state government," Jim Humes, a member of Brown's transition team said in a statement.
The statement said six outstanding audits under the inspector general's office will be finished by other state auditing offices.
The office is relatively small: Its budget for the current fiscal year was $2.8 million, of which $1.7 million is from the state's beleaguered general fund, according to the Department of Finance. It employs 11 staff including Chick, seven of whom are on loan from other state agencies and offices.
Read the full letter announcing the position elimination after the jump.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
December 20, 2010
The journey of life occasionally encounters unexpected twists and turns, and I recently received word of one such unfortunate turn from Governor-elect Brown's transition team. The incoming administration will eliminate the Office of the Inspector General, which oversees the state's spending of the Recovery Act funds, as of January 1, 2011.
The Governor-elect faces an extremely difficult job in grappling with the severity of the state budget crisis. He received an overwhelming mandate by the voters to make tough decisions, and I wish him the very best during the months ahead.
I want to thank Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his commitment to opening up government operations to the light of day. His creation of the Inspector General's Office to scrutinize the state's spending of stimulus dollars was unprecedented in the nation. With this singular move he put California in the lead in its oversight of these taxpayer dollars.
Creating this office sent a potent message: We are watching. Working with the four U.S. Attorneys, Federal Inspectors General, U.S. Attorney General, district attorneys and local officials, we formed a highly connected and coordinated oversight team to discourage waste and fraud before it occurs.
Most importantly I want to acknowledge my tiny powerhouse team. Their drive, determination and commitment more than compensated for their small numbers, pushing government to do things smarter and better.
From High Speed Rail to county social service programs, from Redding to San Bernardino, we unearthed problems and made commonsense recommendations for improvement. In less than a year since my office attained a strike team of auditors, we have released 27 reports uncovering 100 issues and making 48 recommendations for change.
However, there is much more work to be done. The Recovery Act was passed into law nearly two years ago, but half the money coming to California has yet to be spent. At this half-way point I have written Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor-elect Brown with my observations of the Recovery Act. You can read my letter on my website at www.inspectorgeneral.ca.gov.
It has been an honor to serve the people of California the last 20 months and, of course, to serve the people of Los Angeles for 16 years in elective office. I don't know precisely where my journey goes from here, but I am ready and eager to see what's next.
I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and joyous 2011.
All my best,
Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2010/12/jerry-brown-to-eliminate-offic.html#ixzz18hWMDIWn