Montgomery inspector general to leave job
Montgomery County's inspector general, Thomas Dagley, is planning to step down by year's end.
Dagley has sparred in recent months with officials from Isiah Leggett's administration. But in explaining his departure, Dagley emphasized the benefits of turnover for his office.
He will have served more than five years, about the same as his predecessor, Dagley said. And the law limits IG's to no more than two four-year terms. His plan was always to leave earlier rather than later in his second term, he said in an interview.
"The whole idea there is you don't get too entrenched," Dagley said, noting that turnover is good for maintaining objectivity, energy and "for the office to stay focused ... on some of the county's most pressing fraud, waste and abuse type of issues."
The Gazette's Erin Cunningham first reported Dagley's decision to leave.
Dagley complained earlier this year about interference from Leggett administration officials, which they denied.
In a May statement, Dagley recounted a case in which names he sent county officials as part of one of his probes were used by administration officials, without his knowledge, as part of their own internal investigation.
Such a use, Dagley wrote, was inappropriate and "contrary to the basic principles and standards needed to ensure the independence of [the Inspector General's] work, protect confidential information, and safeguard the identity of confidential sources."
The case concerned the misuse and mismanagement of tuition assistance funds for county employees. Dagley said he had sent the names to a top technology official while seeking additional information.
In the interview, Dagley suggested that Montgomery's county council should consider amending county law to better protect the confidentiality of information from his office.
The council has over the past year increased whistleblower protections and given the inspector general's office the authority to seek outside counsel to assist it's work.
Council vice chairman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) pushed for those earlier changes. She plans to meet with Dagley to discuss his suggestions for confidentiality protections, which she said "would fit nicely into the package of bills I've already sponsored."
"But I feel a lot of anxiety about the way he's leaving," Ervin said. "I had heard over the last several months that the inspector general believes that his investigations have been interfered with. I think it's a really sad day for Montgomery County residents that the watchdog for the county is on his way out."
County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said there was "nothing inappropriate at all" about the administration's use of names sent over by Dagley as part of his tuition assistance probe.
"We were doing an investigation of the same thing. He had some names we didn't and we said, 'Whoa, we should look at those names too,'" Lacefield said. "It meant more oversight, not less. We've cooperated with him at every turn."
"We've worked very closely with the inspector general," Lacefield added. "I'm sure we'll work very closely with whomever the council chooses as his successor."
August 11, 2010; 6:33 PM ET
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