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Baltimore County proposes Inspector General oversight board

Johnny Olszewski
Posted at 2:32 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 16:22:55-04

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Friday introduced legislation that would create an oversight board for the Inspector General's Office.

Similar to some jurisdictions, the proposed board would be composed of seven of the following members.

  • The County Attorney, who will chair the board and may assign staff from the Office of Law to the board
  • The County Administrative Officer or their designee
  • The Director of Budget and Finance, or the Director’s designee
  • The County Council Chair, or the Chair’s designee
  • The Secretary to the County Council
  • Two County residents jointly approved by the County Executive and the County Council Chair who are on faculty at a law school, public policy school or public administration school.

They would meet at least once a year and be responsible for reviewing the Inspector General’s performance, policies, and procedures, in addition to reviewing complaints against them.

A majority vote (4) would be required in order for the board to take any action.

The County insists that current Inspector General Kelly Madigan supports the board's creation.

"During the County Council’s budget hearings earlier this year, the Council identified – and the Inspector General acknowledged – clear gaps in the existing law," said County Spokesman Sean Narron. "At that time the Inspector General voiced her support for the creation of an oversight board. Since then, the County has worked in collaboration with her office to introduce proposed legislation," added Narron.

WMAR-2 questioned a measure in the bill that would require the Inspector General to notify the board about the subject of a complaint before an investigative report is published.

Narron said it would have no impact on Madigan's independence.

"A courtesy notification will have no impact on the ability of the IG to perform their duties to investigate and identify fraud, waste and illegal acts," said Narron. "The Board does not need to approve of investigations."

The new legislation, calls for Madigan to submit an annual report within the first 60 days of each year, detailing her office's accomplishments and monetary savings resulting from investigations.

In 2020 Madigan became the first person ever appointed to the role of Inspector General in Baltimore County.

During her time in office she has exposed millions in wasteful and unauthorized government spending, ranging from pension benefits to agricultural programs.

The proposed bill makes clear that for future investigations, Madigan be granted access to requested records and information that aren't protected, confidential or privileged under federal or state law, and report any uncovered criminal activity to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

“Creating an oversight board for this important, independent office builds on our ongoing work to foster open and accountable government," said Olszewski. "I look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Inspector General to improve transparency and accountability at all levels of government."

Plans are to officially introduce the legislation to the County Council during the July 6 legislative session.

According to Narron, the public will be able to provide input at the council’s work session on July 27.

A vote is expected August 2.

The proposal is similar to the one recently implemented in Baltimore City.

SEE ALSO: New advisory board could determine fate of Baltimore City's Inspector General