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IG's Role Should Remain Unchanged, Panel Says

Montgomery's charter review commission has given a preliminary thumbs down to a proposal that would bring the inspector general's office under the executive branch, foreshadowing a likely no vote next spring.

At a recent meeting, the panel voted 8 to 0 to turn down the proposal to shift the inspector general's operations from its quasi-independent status. The office, headed by Thomas J. Dagley, reports to the County Council and has functioned as a watchdog over county spending.

The proposal to shift the office to the executive branch was first floated by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) late last year in a discussion over different issues the charter commission could address. The panel then put it on its agenda and began an examination of the proposal last winter.

But eventually, the group decided that business as usual was a good plan.

"We decided the office was functioning sufficiently independently and producing good results," said charter panel chairman Nancy Soreng.

Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield said the boss would not be too bent out of shape over the rejection of the proposal, which he said had been raised informally by Leggett in a "conversation" with the charter panel. At the IG's office, the proposal raised concerns that there were efforts by the Leggett administration to compromise the office's ability to challenge county spending.

"If people don't want to change it, that's fine with us," Lacefield said.

Dagley, who has made headlines recently with findings about extensive problems in the county's disability payments to police officers, and payments for no work to health and human services vendors, said he was pleased.

"The Council-appointed method used to select and fund the inspector general should continue. It enhances independence and clarifies audit and investigative authority for all Council-funded programs and capital projects," he said.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  October 28, 2008; 10:09 AM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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