Councilman Green Still Hating on People Who Investigate Stuff

By Aaron Kase
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Mar. 31, 2010

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City Budget Director Steve Agostini says that the $3.3 million in salary savings claimed by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) this year is not an accurate number. Councilman Bill Green says it’s a wildly inaccurate figure. Inspector General Amy Kurland claims it’s a conservative estimate.

At least we can all hold hands and agree: $3.3 million is not reliable. Maybe it’s $10 million! Maybe it’s two dollars. Who knows. Imaginary numbers give us bad flashbacks to calculus class.

The controversial $3.3 million is the total value of two years' salary for all the city employees who resigned or were fired as a result of OIG investigations. The problem is, most or all of the positions have been or will be refilled. We’d love to see the savings broken down by each open position, how long it has been vacant, the projected pension savings from losing employees early, and the difference in salary between firing someone with seniority and hiring someone new. We’ll get back to you in 2055 when those numbers are ready.

Green questions whether the OIG should be talking about savings at all. “Seems to me the purpose is not to save money by creating vacancies for limited periods of time in order to generate additional dollars for general fund,” the councilman tells PhillyNow. “The purpose of the Inspector General’s Office is to root out waste, fraud, abuse and criminal activity and for that I commended [Kurland] during her testimony. But it seems a little disingenuous to tack on another mission and say you saved money in the context of budget hearings.”

Point taken, but if saving money is not the Inspector General’s primary function, it’s a serious side benefit, and one that seems entirely appropriate to bring up at a budget hearing when skeptical City Council members are trying to claw back the office’s funds.
Remember, the disputed $3.3 million in salary savings is part of $7.6 million total the OIG says they’ve saved the city on a $1.3 million budget.

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1. Iamontheoverheadsideofthespreadsheet said... on Mar 31, 2010 at 08:34PM

“Councilman it is not disingenous to do that and I think you are a hard on sometimes (1st hand experience). I am a City employee who works for a Dept that does not really generate income for the City. The best I can do is fight inertia and malfeasance and save some money for the City which I do rather well and it has gotten me recognized and promoted. I wind up saving the City a few hundred here, a thousand there. The problem is that it is hard to quantify this stuff because bean counters like you only deal in the abstract. Also factor in the added productivity from the good workers after the IG hammers someone. It is somewhat encouraging. Go Amy!”

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