The Office of Inspector General completed 15 of the 22 investigations it opened in 2009, according to an annual report the office submitted to the city Tuesday.
“Most of the investigations concerned relatively minor matters. However, The Crime Surveillance Camera inspection revealed multiple evasions of competitive requirements, and generated suspicions of corruption in contract administration,” reads the March 30 report by Inspector General Edouard Quatrevaux.
Mandated by a city ordinance, the six-page report (.pdf) detailed the accomplishments of the controversial office’s second year in operation. By all accounts, including the report’s, year two was not easy, beginning with the abrupt resignation of the city’s first inspector general, Robert Cerasoli.
Following the unexpected departure of the widely respected investigator from Boston, an interim IG, Leonard Odom, entered the office. The takeover came at a time of increasing tensions between the office and the administration of Mayor Ray Nagin and did little to resolve it.
By the fall, when Odom was replaced by Quatrevaux, many in the city’s political class were raising doubts about having a watchdog within government and questioning decisions made by his predecessors.
In the report, Quatrevaux described the year as one of low productivity due to the “lengthy interim leadership and lack of a multi-year work plan.”
He went on to say that resources were “misdirected to non-productive activities” in 2009, but that the year ended on a strong note.
Counted among the office’s accotmplishmens were a report on the city’s 2009 budget process that “revealed systemic flaws in the City’s budget formulation and execution system” and a report on a proposal for the renovation Municipal Auditorium that contributed to public outcry and the withdrawal of the development proposal of the contract. Quatrevaux credited his office with killing the deal and saving the city approximately $4 million in unnecessary expenses.
“The OIG rose from its nadir in September to an organization respected for its relevance, credibility, and objectivity by the end of 2009,” he wrote.
The Inspector General received 216 complaints in 2009, the report shows. Most of them did not result in investigations. The report does not say whether complaints were passed along to other agencies or the media, though Cerasoli did enjoy a cozy relationship with some reporters.
The City Charter sets the office’s budget at .75 percent of the city’s annual operating budget. In 2009, the formula gave the office approximately $3.2 million to spend, $396,000 of which were earmarked for the Ethics Review Board that oversees the office and all ethics complaints. At the end of the year, the OIG gave the city back $500,000 in unspent money, and the review board returned about $100,000, the report states.