Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36th Senatorial District) and Rep. Mindy Fee (R-37th House District) today announced that they have introduced legislation to statutorily create Pennsylvania’s Office of Inspector General to provide for the office’s appointment, term, power and duties.
“The Inspector General’s job as one of our Commonwealth’s top waste, fraud and abuse watchdogs needs to be enacted into law and given the appropriate authority to prevent and deter corruption and other illegal acts in state government,” said Sen. Aument.
The Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General was first created in 1987 by Executive Order 1987-7 under Governor Casey. The mission of this important office is to prevent, investigate, and eradicate fraud, waste, abuse, and misconduct in the programs, operations, and contracting of executive agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction.
Currently, the Inspector General is a cabinet-level official who is appointed by, and reports to, the Governor.
“Pennsylvania is among a small minority of states that does not have a separate statute providing for the appointment, term and duties of the Inspector General,” said Rep. Fee. “Currently, the office only exists if the Governor wishes it to continue by Executive Order.”
The legislation being proposed by Sen. Aument and Rep. Fee would create by law the post of Inspector General. The bill requires that the Inspector General be nominated by the Governor and confirmed by two-thirds of the Senate. The legislation also sets forth that the Inspector General would serve a term of 6 years and could serve no more than 2 terms and only be removed from office for cause.
“Our goal is to create this office in a manner that will allow our Inspector General to work independently from the influence of any one Governor, who now can unilaterally direct the detection of waste, fraud and abuse in state government,” said Sen. Aument and Rep. Fee. “The important work of investigating and preventing misconduct in programs, operations and contracting demands independence.”
The legislation includes specific powers and duties for the Inspector General’s office, most of which are consistent with the current powers and duties of the office.
For example, the legislation calls for the Inspector General to make investigations and reports, work with state agencies to improve performance of their functions and responsibilities, engage in prevention activities and promote remedial actions to correct operating or other deficiencies in state agencies.
Under the legislation, the Inspector General would also make regular reports to the General Assembly concerning problems or deficiencies relating to the administration of a program or operation in an agency.
Finally, the bill includes important whistleblower protections that will continue to encourage Commonwealth employees who report – in good faith – fraud, waste, misconduct, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or abuse.
“Our objective is to empower the Inspector General to make sure that our Commonwealth agencies are free of what we all agree is unacceptable – waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct,” said Sen. Aument and Rep. Fee.
“This legislation would go a long way in promoting a more transparent, accountable government that the people of Lancaster County and Pennsylvania expect and deserve.”