The government needs more oversight, not less.
The bigger point here is that regardless of what the Controller should or should not be doing, the OIG is getting results. “The Office of the Inspector General has been performing better and better. Seth Williams took the job out of the shadows and Kurland has built on that,” Stalberg says.
While the $3.2 million salary figure may not be verifiable or accurate, funds recovered from fraud and other savings like the $3.4 million in Department of Defense checks are money in the bank. Furthermore, not counted in the savings is the deterrence of city employees from committing fraud or theft knowing that they could be held accountable. That’s a service that the Controller’s Office has simply not been providing. Prior to Kurland’s arrival, fired city workers were usually rehired with back pay after arbitration.
The bottom line is there is still plenty of corruption in Philadelphia. The government needs more oversight, not less, and currently the OIG is doing the best job rooting out fraud, punishing those responsible and recommending policy changes to prevent future abuses.
Why mess with success?
Councilman-At-Large Frank Rizzo Jr. acknowledged at the hearing that the OIG is perceived as more effective than the Controller’s Office: “It’s becoming obvious to me that because the Inspector General is doing a good job, when there’s a complaint the department prefers to go to the Inspector General instead of another elected official.”
As Kurland told Council: “We’re on the way to becoming a national model for an independent office conducting complex fraud investigations.”
But that’s only if they don’t get derailed, defunded or defanged by City Council first.
*Councilman Green could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls to his office yesterday.
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.
A number of investigative and watchdog bodies actually operate inside city government. Each office has its limitations, however, leaving oversight on certain areas of government thin to nonexistent. Specifically, City Council manages to largely escape scrutiny.
If only this website had been available years ago; we wouldn’t be in this property-values mess. Maybe this can also set straight the Parking Authority, City Council, Charter School administrators, etc. etc. ad nauseum.