OIG Releases 1st Quarter 2016 Report
The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has transmitted its first quarter report for 2016 to the City Council and City officials. The report summarizes the Office’s activity from January 1 through March 31, 2016.
In his cover letter, Inspector General Joe Ferguson notes that in the first quarter of 2016, OIG concluded a months-long review of its operations by an external team of oversight peers from the Association of Inspectors General (AIG). The review, which OIG undergoes every three years, included an in-depth examination of OIG’s work and processes involving, among other things, interviews of staff, the external investigative partners with whom it works, and senior officials. The review team noted a number of areas in which OIG shows distinction in the field of government oversight, including its complaint review process, audit planning, and training and qualifications. The full conclusions are available at http://igchicago.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016-Peer-Review-Letter.pdf.
Also in this Quarter’s Report are summaries of concluded OIG investigations and inquiries, and activities, including:
- An OIG investigation found that six Chicago Police Department (CPD) members violated CPD rules and regulations in the course of their involvement in CPD’s 2011 reinvestigation of the 2004 homicide of David Koschman. OIG found that two detectives and their supervising officers provided or created the appearance of preferential treatment for Richard J. Vanecko, the Mayor’s nephew. OIG also found that certain officers had failed in a number of other ways to meet their duties including failing to perform a competent investigation and failing to draft or ensure the drafting of a truthful report. OIG recommended that CPD seek to discharge the two detectives. CPD stated that one of those detectives resigned in lieu of discharge and that it issued a one-year suspension to the second detective. The detective has not challenged the one-year suspension, but has exercised an “options” discipline approved by the Interim Superintendent which will permit the detective to use accrued compensatory time and return to paid duty status shortly. Of the four supervisors OIG investigated, three retired from CPD after OIG issued its report. For the remaining supervisor OIG recommended that CPD impose discipline up to and including discharge. CPD imposed a one-year suspension on the supervisor, who is proceeding with a challenge before the Police Board.
- An OIG investigation established that a community organization managing multiple special service areas (SSAs) improperly used SSA tax levies as collateral. The group also commingled SSA tax funds with non-SSA funds in its SSA deposit accounts and made several hundred thousand dollars of unauthorized payments from these accounts to its lines of credit. The group had carried out these practices since at least 2008. DPS initiated debarment proceedings against the organization and its President.
- On January 22, 2016, HRB upheld the termination of a former Supervisor of Tax and License Compliance with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). The supervisor had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with another BACP investigator to steal $2,000 worth of cigarettes that the City had confiscated. The supervisor admitted that he took those cigarettes to his family’s convenience store and sold them.
- The City recovered $130,000 from a prime contractor who was permanently debarred on October 7, 2015, after an OIG investigation found it had committed M/WBE fraud on three contracts with the Chicago Department of Aviation.
- OIG notified BACP that its policies on mediation are unclear, inconsistent, and often undocumented, leaving employees and the City vulnerable to accusations of impropriety as well as possible appearances of conflicts of interest. The notification came after a BACP consumer fraud investigator and a BACP attorney pressed a business owner to resolve a complaint by returning all of the money that the customer had paid to the owner, with the understanding that this would dispose of the BACP investigation and any potential fines. Although OIG found no evidence of a conflict of interest or extortion, as a result of this informal mediation attempt, the responding business owner believed that the BACP investigator and the aggrieved customer had a preexisting relationship and that the investigator was attempting to extort money from the owner. Responding to the notification, BACP clarified that mediation by BACP investigators and attorneys is not permitted and clarified its written policies to reflect the prohibition on mediation.
- An OIG audit determined that by taking small steps such as implementing an electronic-only filing system, the Board of Ethics (BOE) might realize major gains in the completeness, accuracy, and integrity of its lobbyist registration and disclosure. For example, although BOE had not established guidelines for waiving or reducing fines, it fined lobbyists who were late to file their annual registration less than the amount prescribed in the Ethics Ordinance. OIG analyzed a sample of late-registering lobbyists and found that BOE could have imposed fines totaling $197,000. However, OIG found that BOE only imposed a total of $58,000 in fines for the fiscal year reviewed.
The full Quarterly Report can be found online at the OIG website: bit.ly/OIG2016Q1