Senate Republican leader John McKinney is continues his decade long crusade to create more transparency in government. And, like McKinney, most Republicans believe the creation of a non-partisan Office of Inspector General is the answer. But, his initiative has never made it out of committee.
The GOP today cited numerous instances where, they say, an OIG would have streamlined government, including their investigating fraud involving D-SNAP (Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
More than a year after dozens of state employees were terminated, amid allegations of food stamp fraud following Tropical Storm Irene, most got their jobs back and no one was arrested.
“I read what you guys wrote or what was said in press releases, but I don’t have a report on how it happened, who’s responsible, who ultimately approved the applications,” said State Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven).
Fasano also alluded to the construction delays and major cost overruns during work on I-84, between Waterbury and Cheshire, which was delayed for years, in part because of defective drains.
“Let’s not cover it up. Let’s find out and shed the light. Then, we can protect it for the future,” added Fasano. He also believes former Governor John G. Rowland’s resignation and subsequent prosecution could have been streamlined with an Inspector General, instead of having a legislative panel looking into impeaching Rowland.
“Certainly, when the first news reports came out, the Inspector General could have had the matter referred to them and they could’ve issued subpoenas,” said Fasano.
State Representative Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown), the Vice Chair of the Government Administration and Election Committee, says Republicans must have forgotten about the Office of Public Auditors.
“They already go in and they inspect and they make sure that public funds are expended appropriately. And, they’ve gotten national recognition for this work,” noted Lesser.
Lesser also added that “if the auditors find anything wrong, not only is it required that they turn it over to the attorney general, but they can go to jail if they don’t.”
The cost for adding an Office of Inspector General, Senator Fasano said, would be little if any because a portion of Attorney General’s staff would be moved to the OIG.