Inspector General’s 2019 Statement to Chicago City Council


Madame Chair and Members of the City Council:

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has had a busy 2019 with plans for an even busier 2020, in its continuing effort to fully inhabit its statutory mission to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity in City government. As has been the case throughout my tenure as Inspector General, the pursuit of this mission requires the Office’s constant evolution to meet new and increasing challenges and to ensure public interest and engagement in our services. The turn of a new Administration and City Council since last year’s budget hearing offers promise of a paradigm shift in efforts to cultivate awareness, understanding of, and engagement in issues critical to the health and well-being of our city. That shift is informed by heightened awareness that the City cannot count on assistance from outside to solve its challenges. The solutions for Chicago’s challenges, in significant part, must be found from within, through a new form of critical engagement among all stakeholders. OIG is working to adapt and evolve to help the City meet those challenges and redress past shortcomings whether structural, operational, or cultural. As this moment requires us to continue charging forward, I offer here a simple overview, consonant with ordinance-prescribed confidentiality obligations, of what OIG has been doing in 2019 to tackle some of the City’s challenges and where OIG is headed in 2020.

OIG’s Audit and Program Review Section, which conducts U.S. Government Accountability Office Yellow Book standard government performance audits, published reports this year on:

  • Air Pollution Enforcement (CDPH)
  • Delays in Sanitation Code Violations Notices (DOL/DSS)
  • Operations of the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOEC/City)
  • Status of Implementation of the 2012 recommendations of the Tax Increment Financing Reform Panel (City)
  • Maintenance of Police Vehicles (2FM)
  • Coordination of Construction in the Public Way (CDOT)
  • Commercial Driveway Billing (CDOT)
  • Library Staffing (CPL)
  • Affordable Requirements Ordinance Administration (DPD)
  • Garbage Collection for Non-Profits (DSS)
  • Residential Street Infrastructure Management (CDOT)

Topics for which public reports can be expected in the coming months include:

  • CPD Overtime Follow-Up
  • Information Technology Investment Strategy (DoIT)
  • Water Department Overtime (DWM)
  • Weed Cutting (DSS)
  • Juvenile Intervention Support Center (CPD/DFSS)
  • Building Complaint Inspections (DOB)

Additional APR work in progress includes the following topics:

  • Discrimination and Harassment Prevention (CFD)
  • Traffic Signal Management (CDOT)
  • Employee Performance Evaluation Practices (DHR/City)
  • TIF Surplus and Sunshine Compliance (City)
  • Citywide Information Technology Strategy (DoIT)
  • Negotiated Land Sales Program Administration (DPD)
  • High-Density Residential and Commercial Recycling Enforcement (DSS)

We urge you to share your insights, comments, and suggestions in response to OIG’s Draft 2020 Audit Plan (posted at: Comments and suggestions regarding the draft will be factored into the final plan to be published before the end of the year. Potential subjects for possible audits for the coming year, for which we seek your input, include:

  • MBE, WBE, DBE, BEPD Goal Achievement (DPS)
  • Water Main Replacement Cost Control (DWM)
  • City Budget Development Process (OBM)
  • Aviation Construction Change Orders (CDA)
  • Fire Department Overtime (CFD)
  • Fire and Emergency Medical Response Times (CFD)
  • Smart 911 Effectiveness (OEMC)
  • Dashboard Camera Management and Maintenance (CPD)
  • Smart Light Project Funding Transparency (CIT)
  • Street Resurfacing and Maintenance (CDOT)
  • City Data Quality (City)
  • Street Sweeping Efficiency (DSS
  • Green Energy Systems (PBC)
  • Unenforced Municipal Code Provision (City)
  • Municipal ID Personal Information Security (Clerk)
  • Building Permit Issuance and Inspections (DOB)
  • Shared Housing Ordinance Enforcement (BACP)
  • Citywide Information Technology Strategy (DoIT/City)
  • Development of the City Capital Improvement Program (OMB)
  • Advertising Billboard Permit Enforcement (DOB)
  • Delegate Agency Accountability (DFSS)
  • Construction and Demolition Debris Recycling (CDPH)

Your front line, ground-level perspective and connection with the communities you represent are critically important to OIG’s ability to focus and scope its work for optimal impact. We hope to hear from you.

In the past year, OIG’s Public Safety Section, has, among other activities, issued reports of major public interest respecting CPD’s School Resource Officer Program and so-called Gang Database. Through our extensive, direct engagement with long underserved and unheard communities, we learned that each of these reports, as problematic as were the findings, was received as a significant positive development because the reports reflected a government that is leaning into issues of longstanding concern and adverse impact. But while sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant, it is alone not sufficient to effect change. True reform, in its most robust and impactful dimensions, requires an essential and healthy tension between the executive and legislative components of government working toward solutions. Indeed, those two reports have spawned negative and mounting blowback from the same community leaders who touted their release, arising from the fact that the City Council has yet to call hearings on either report. This is problematic as a matter of legitimacy and, in at least one of those instances, the law, as the Council has not met its own legal obligations to hold hearings under a law it enacted respecting police oversight. As we are all in the early stages of what is a long reform undertaking, such misses and stumbles should not be surprising, but they cannot go without correction once identified. For that reason, OIG is pleased about the engagement of chairs of certain standing committees in the new Council, with Alderman Michelle Smith, Chair of the Ethics and Good Governance Committee, taking the lead regarding the establishment pf protocols and processes for briefings and routine committee hearings on OIG audits, advisories, and evaluations going forward. We applaud this development as an important turn to optimizing the work of OIG from both its Public Safety and Audit and Program Review sections.

The work of the Public Safety Section has also prompted reform to CPD’s handling of evaluation and referrals of individuals arrested with firearms who, for various reasons, may pose a threat to themselves or the public if allowed to maintain firearm carry privileges upon release. Public Safety has also stood up an Inspections Unit that, long delays from data access issues from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) notwithstanding, is now conducting reviews of investigations concluded by COPA and CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs to assess material deficiencies or errors in such matters. Case reviews to date have resulted in recommendations to inform and improve future investigations, as well as recommendations to re-open investigations, one of which resulted in the full exoneration of an officer who was otherwise recommended for discipline. In the coming year, Public Safety, working with our Center for Information Technology and Analytics and OIG’s Legal Section, will begin to tackle and report out pattern and trend analysis of, among other things, civil judgments, settlements, and grievances. The Inspections Unit will also begin reporting out complaint and discipline trends (drawing in part on the clean and validated information now publicly available on OIG’s Information Portal). Finally, in the coming months, Public Safety will be reporting out on a number of important topics related to CPD reform with collateral benefit to the broader criminal justice system including:

  • CPD’s Post-Firearm Discharge Policy Compliance
  • BIA and COPA Use of Affidavit Override Authority
  • COPA Compliance with the City’s Video Release Policy
  • CPD’s Records Management System

Additional projects under consideration for the coming year include reviews and evaluations of:

  • CPD’s Merit Selection Process
  • District-Level Call Response Times
  • Use of Force Reporting Compliance
  • Enforcement of CPD Rules 14, 21, and 22
  • COPA’s Administrative Case Termination Practices
  • CPD Handling of EEO Complaints
  • CPD and COPA Complaint-Involved Mediation
  • Welcoming City Ordinance Compliance

OIG will also continue to expand its collaborative relationship with the Independent Monitoring Team appointed under the federal consent decree entered last year in State of Illinois v. City of Chicago.

In order for the Council to fully inhabit its legislative province and responsibilities, it needs access to information respecting City operations. As I believe many in this chamber know, OIG has tried to improve access to that information for elected officials, City administrators, and the public at large through its Information Portal, (available at: The desire to better use data in our traditional work—investigations and audits—was the impetus for the internal development of the technical skills and infrastructure underlying the Information Portal. The public transparency and accountability imperatives of our police oversight responsibilities have been a force amplifier for expansion into the public domain. We have found in the first full year of its operation that the simple fact of government making data available in user-friendly, interactive visualizations is shifting perceptions in how people view their government. The more readily such information is available, the less time we spend chasing information and arguing about facts, which in turn frees time and energy for discussions about what those facts mean and what we should be doing about them. In the coming months, we are working to enrich our first-generation, user-friendly dashboards and adding to the numerous police-related dashboards, recently enhanced with an overlay of neighborhood-level census data and other visualizations drawn from use of force and arrest data. We are also working to respond to the strong call from the community and Council members and staff for dashboards respecting procurement and the M/WBE program. On this front, we hope our data work will be understood as a forerunner of our future direction—greater collaboration with City departments and department leadership. The Department of Procurement Services has been a model partner in this respect, appreciating that OIG’s data capacities can be a resource for a new generation of enterprise-level transparency and accountability, to include predictive analytics from OIG that can be engaged by the very departments for which OIG has oversight responsibility. In the new year, we hope to engage the Administration in discussions that will lead to a broader array of collaborative undertakings relating to data.

2019 has been an extremely busy year of growth for OIG’s Community Outreach and Engagement activities. OIG staff guided by Community Engagement Coordinator Mariela Estrada has visited, presented, and participated in community programming with hundreds of community organizations, leaders, and individuals across the City, through which OIG endeavors to engage with community members where they live. We have additionally hosted community expert roundtables to solicit expertise and input for topics under consideration for formal inquiry. Additionally, during the summer, OIG initiated an ongoing Public Safety Survey (available at: to solicit input from both the public and Chicago Police Department members on areas of concern and priority relating to policing services, to better inform the Public Safety and Audit and Program Review sections’ identification of topics for formal assessment. The response from the public has been robust; less so from CPD members as it has had less than full support from the Department (a problem also resulting in minimal use of a special anonymous CPD Member Tipline created and managed by OIG, based on findings and recommendations from 2016 Police Accountability Task Force and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Section). We hope to rectify this in the future, because central to the success of larger police reform efforts will be improvements to programs and operations that directly support officers in the field. In its recent Q3 2019 Report, OIG reported out feedback from over 1300 survey responses received during the first ten weeks. These efforts combined have yielded increased traffic to OIG’s website along with increases in calls to OIG’s tipline. In 2020, we expect the recent addition of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer to be a force amplifier in our community engagement efforts both in relation to the public, as well as our work with and in regard to City departments and operations.

As often said, where money and power are found, human nature will yield some quantum of corrupt activities. OIG’s work in the investigative realm continues to evolve from its origins. Where outcomes may be reported, as they should, we do so in our quarterly reports. But at this moment, when major investigations at all levels of government permeate the 24-hour news cycle, it ill serves ongoing efforts to catalog them again here. That said, the Investigations Section is working to develop technology-based solutions that will free resources to focus on more complex and large-scale investigations. Notable in this regard in the coming year, we hope to develop a technology-based solution that would more effectively address the perennial problem of residency violators, which currently requires labor-intensive investigations that have limited impact on City-wide compliance beyond the handful of subjects of those investigations.

The origins of OIG were rooted in investigation. Investigation still is, and always will be, at the core of what we do. But the evolution of OIG into, among other things, various forms of audit, evaluation, and compliance oversight responsibilities impels new perspectives and approaches to the original, closed operation. Today’s OIG is, to the greatest extent possible, public facing and engaging, and collaborative rather than adversarial. Another initiative furthering OIG’s collaborative approach is the real-time Integrity Monitoring of the O’Hare 21 Project. This infrastructure project, the largest of a generation, will be monitored through a collaborative undertaking involving the Department of Aviation, the Department of Procurement Services, and OIG, introducing real-time integrity monitoring of construction which, as the coming year progresses, we hope will yield the insights needed to broach discussion of its application in all large-scale City public works construction and renovation projects. That collaborative ethos has begun to reach beyond the City as a corporate structure to the larger constellation of government agencies and bodies with and through which the public is served—most notably the Sister Agencies. 

The continuing work in implementing the recommendations of the 2015 Procurement Reform Task Force (PRTF) has opened new pathways for aligned processes, standards, information sharing respecting procurement, contract management, program management, and enforcement among the Sister Agencies. OIG continues to work in partnership with DPS, with which it was co-chair of the PRTF, to promote collaboration and cooperation in this critical realm.

Finally, the recent legislation that brings OIG oversight of the City Council into general conformity with the rest of City operations is something we also see as a prompt for collaboration in the coming year. In the year prior to the turn of the new Administration, OIG worked with former Alderman Patrick O’Connor, as Chairman of the Committee on Workforce Development and Audit, to forge a working group of Council members and key City department heads to develop a prototype for a comprehensive handbook for Aldermanic operations. New members to the Council have added a fresh voice and perspective to the lack of administrative and technical guidance and support for alderpersons individually, and as a group. We hope the newly expanded mandate to permit us to promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency in Council operations will pave the way for completion of that project with the new Council, in order to free legislator bandwidth to take on the greater challenges of the City.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer this statement and to assist you in service of the stakeholders of the City of Chicago.