Creating Inspector General’s Office in Delaware becomes bipartisan effort

Bay to Bay News | by Craig Anderson

A push to create a watchdog Inspector General’s Office took a significant step forward as Democratic and Republican lawmakers continued to unite Wednesday.

State Rep. Mike Smith, a Newark Republican, signed on to be co-prime sponsor with Rep. John Kowalko, a Newark Democrat, on House Bill 405, ending his own bid to do the same through proposed legislation. Multiple members of both parties support the bill and Rep. Kowalko said he’s heard no opposition to it.

“I think (Rep. Smith’s) addition sends a signal that both parties are interested in one thing and that is honest, transparent government, which in turn, will promote good government, right,” he said Wednesday.

“That’s what the public wants. It’s what the public deserves.”

In a statement, Rep. Smith said that “Good government and transparency are at the heart of the public’s interest.

“Those are not partisan ideals so I’m glad to be joining efforts with Rep. Kowalko and thank him for his partnership to support a more efficient, effective, open and transparent government and to make our state government more accountable to every constituent up and down the state.”

The proposed legislation, which awaits discussion in the House Administration Committee, would:

  • Investigate the management and operation of state agencies to determine if there has been waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, corruption, or other conduct that is harmful to the public interest.
  • Coordinate with other agencies, recommend corrective actions and statutory revisions, and, if necessary, make referrals to law enforcement.
  • Provide reports to the governor, attorney general and General Assembly, and these reports will be available to the public on the OIG website.

Rep. Kowalko gave credit to Delaware Coalition for Open Government’s Nick Wasileski for, among other contributions, gathering information from other states and their Inspector General’s Offices.

Mr. Wasileski credited coalition members for their work as well, noting “We’ve been raising awareness for the need of an inspector general for more than three years.”

According to Mr. Wasileski, DelCOG felt “it would be very important to include mismanagement and neglect of office because a lot of times things that occur in the state may not rise to the level of a crime, but they do harm Delawareans.”

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