Responding to what he said was the public’s tremendous desire to help, New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux said Tuesday that his office is starting a volunteer Citizen’s Reserve force.

He said he envisions, among other things, training people to observe public meetings and asking them to send reports to his staff. Volunteers also could be asked to help with general clerical work.

So what happens if hundreds of people overwhelm the office, hoping to watchdog their public officials? The more the merrier, Quatrevaux said, stressing that one of the first things he’ll do is to choose volunteer coordinators to track everything.

All positions, including the coordinators, will be unpaid, he said.

To volunteer, e-mail .

Though “best practices” is a buzz phrase used by Quatrevaux and others who seek proven methods to make government more efficient, he said he didn’t know whether other inspectors general nationwide have used this approach. It was a more pragmatic decision.

“It came to me because people kept saying, ‘How can I help?’ ” Quatrevaux said in an interview after a community forum focused on his office, where he made the announcement.

The announcement was applauded by other officials on the dais, including U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and City Council President Arnie Fielkow.

Quatrevaux also asked for professional donations of time, including attorneys, engineers and accountants. He said one law firm in town has approached him, offering its staffers looking to satisfy the firm’s requirement of providing community-service hours.

The evening forum drew about 200 people to a ballroom at Xavier University. It was sponsored by Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, as well as Xavier and Loyola universities.


Steve Beatty

Steve Beatty is the publisher and chief executive officer of The Lens. He worked as an editor for The Times-Picayune for 15 years, leaving New Orleans just before Katrina to take a position as an editor...