UPDATE 2: UPDATE: Baltimore County officials have announced that the administration will be postponing plans to introduce legislation to create an oversight board for the Office of the Inspector General.
UPDATE: The Association of Inspectors General has issued an open letter to Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and the Baltimore County Council expressing “grave concerns” about Olszewski’s bill to restructure the county’s Inspector General’s Office.
Original story below…
TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Friday introduced legislation to create an oversight board for the Office of the Inspector General and update rules governing the office to align with statutes governing Inspectors General in other jurisdictions. The administration worked in collaboration with the Inspector General to gather feedback on the proposed legislation.
“Local government should be held to the highest standards of ethics and accountability, and I’m proud of our work to create and support the County’s first Office of the Inspector General,” Olszewski said. “Creating an oversight board for this important, independent office builds on our ongoing work to foster open and accountable government. I look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Inspector General to improve transparency and accountability at all levels of government.”
Similar to the oversight structure of Inspectors General in other jurisdictions, the proposed seven-member board would be composed of:
- The County Attorney, who will chair the board and may assign staff from the Office of Law to the board;
- The County Administrative Officer or their designee;
- The Director of Budget and Finance, or the Director’s designee;
- The County Council Chair, or the Chair’s designee;
- The Secretary to the County Council; and
- Two County residents jointly approved by the County Executive and the County Council Chair who are on faculty at a law school, public policy school or public administration school.
The oversight board would be responsible for reviewing the Inspector General’s performance, policies, and procedures, in addition to reviewing complaints against the inspector general. An affirmative vote of four members is required for the board to take any action. The board will meet at least once annually and must have a quorum of four members.
Under this new legislation, the Inspector General will be required to submit an annual report to the board within the first 60 days of each year, detailing the accomplishments of the office, including any monetary savings directly attributable to the office’s work.
In addition, the proposed bill clarifies that the IG may request access to records and information that is not protected, confidential or privileged under federal or state law, and that suspected criminal activity should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement entity.
After taking office, the Olszewski administration introduced legislation to create the County’s first Office of Ethics and Accountability, now re-named the Office of the Inspector General.
The legislation will be introduced to the County Council during the legislative session on Tuesday, July 6 and is expected to be voted on during the August 2, 2021 legislative session.