We no longer know whether to laugh or cry when it comes to the Ohio Inspector General.
The Office of the Inspector General is supposed to look into the big issues of waste and fraud in Ohio government. It’s an important position.
It’s time for the Office of the Inspector General to go all meta. The Office of the Inspector General needs to investigate itself. We have two suggestions.
First, Remember Coingate? That was, arguably, the biggest scandal in Ohio history. The Office of Inspector General was invented to investigate that matter. How’s that investigation going?
- In 2010, Modern noted that although the Office of the Inspector General claimed the investigation was ongoing, nobody had attempted to interview key figures in the scandal.
- In February 2012, Joseph noted that the Office of the Inspector General might be “shelving” the coingate investigation.
- In October 2012, the Associated Press has asked: where is the promised report on Noe-Coingate from the Ohio Inspector General?
- In April, Joe put it best: Where the Hell is that IG Report on Coingate?
The wrongdoing that needs investigation is no longer the facts of Coingate. The wrongdoing is the delay in producing an investigative report on Coingate. The Office of the Inspector General should open an investigation into why the Office of the Inspector General has not produced a Coingate report.
Second, ICYMI, the Ohio Supreme Court blasted the Office of the Inspector General for its actions under previous Inspector General Tom Charles during an investigation in Brown County. The court unanimously concluded that Inspector General investigators had violated the constitutional rights of state employees during an investigation. (H/T to Modern, who was all over this story back in 2010.)
The Office of the Inspector General needs to investigate the actions of its employees in violating the constitutional rights of state employees in Brown County. Modern asked years ago, “Who watches the Watchman? . . . someone must investigate whether this has been a common practice by the IG’s office.”
Meanwhile, back in October, we observed that the big question is: What has the Office of the Inspector General been doing INSTEAD of issuing this report?
Recently, the Office of the Inspector General issued a report finding that Michael Travis, chief ombudsman for the Industrial Commission of Ohio Nominating Council, improperly used state time, computers and phones when he taught a class at Columbus State College two mornings a week during the summer of 2012. Travis also let his family use his state parking privileges.
Let’s get this out of the way: we have no sympathy for Travis. His explanation about the parking that his actions – which, to be clear, was stealing from taxpayers – were OK because it has been a common practice for state employees to occasionally let other people use their parking spaces disgusts us.
What we don’t understand is why the Inspector General’s Office was involved at all. This is the misuse of a couple of thousand dollars; the costs of the investigation almost certainly exceeded the value of the misuse of state resources. The agency involved has HR staff who are more than capable of conducting this sort of investigation.
A quick look at the OIG web page shows that this is not an isolated minor investigation. The Inspector General has been using his resources to investigate minor stuff, like: whether ODOT took 23 days instead of 10 to award some contracts under the Stimulus Act; and whether an ODADAS employee improperly completed time sheets worth between 20 and 44 hours over a 12 week period.
Do we expect the Inspector general to investigate the wrongdoing in his own office? Of course not. Do we expect to see a Coingate report before the 2014 election? Hah!
But we have a suggestion for a campaign promise for Ed FitzGerald: promise to appoint an Inspector General who will issue the Coingate Report within 30 days of taking office, and then begin an investigation into why it took so long.