California

Senate Bill to Determine Need for Transportation Inspector General

From the Sacremento Bee

The Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday approved an amended version of Senate Bill 878 that would order the California Transportation Commission to examine whether an inspector general should be established to oversee state transportation agencies.

The amended bill, authored by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, was approved unanimously by his committee last week and passed the Assembly panel by a 7-1 vote. It proceeds to the full Assembly after the upcoming legislative recess.

DeSaulnier said the inspector general approach came largely in response to a series of Bee investigations about California Department of Transportation tests of California bridges. Those stories raised questions about the structural stability of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge eastern span, scheduled to open by Labor Day 2013. They also examined doubts about the adequacy of Caltrans bridge-testing oversight.

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LAPD’s Watchdog Asked to Try New Ways to Evaluate Officer-Involved Shootings

From Southern California Public Radio

Los Angeles police commissioners Tuesday told the LAPD’s watchdog and the police chief that more analysis needs to be done on data related to officer-involved shootings before any conclusion can be drawn about why so many happened in L.A. last year.

“It is important for us to dig down and to try to understand it,” said Commissioner Richard Drooyan. “We just need to do some further digging.”

The LAPD Police Commissioners Board hears a report from the Inspector General about officer-involved shootings and assaults on officers.

Officials from LAPD’s inspector general’s office presented a report that showed there was no clear correlation between assaults against officers and officer-involved shootings. Police Chief Charlie Beck has linked the two to explain why there was a big increase in the number of times officers fired their guns last year.

“My takeaway from this is that there is not an easy answer to that,” Drooyan said.

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New Inspector General Named to L.A. Police Commission

From the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday announced its new inspector general.

Alexander Bustamante, 39, currently an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California, was chosen by the commission to take over the watchdog office.

Alexander Bustamonte, Inspector General

As inspector general, Bustamante will oversee a staff that serves as a check on the LAPD’s authority.

Read the article here: Los Angeles Times


The Seven Biggest Mistakes Companies Make that Erode Ethical Culture and Destroy Reputation

Article written by Eric Feldman, President, Core Integrity Group published in  Compliance & Ethics

You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television news
today without hearing yet another disturbing story about corporate fraud in all its forms: bribery, gratuities, kickbacks, false claims, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and even illegal corporate wiretapping of private citizens. Most of these stories begin with a rogue company employee, manager, or executive who violates the rules of the road, followed by a whistleblower reporting the “crime” to the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) or a federal/state Office of Inspector General. A subsequent federal or state investigation leads to government prosecutions of both the employee and the company, followed by lengthy and costly litigation. The DOJ, SEC, or other agencies then demand settlements or fines in the millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, forcing the company to sign a consent decree admitting responsibility and accepting years of monitoring and reporting requirements.

Read the article here: Compliance & Ethics


Reports Show Overpayment, Fraud at L.A. Community College District

From dailybreeze.com

Los Angeles Community College District officials significantly overpaid for computer software, and an employee was caught illegally selling district transit passes on the Web, according to two new inspector general reports released Monday.

The district was paying nearly 79 percent more for Global Star Technology to obtain the software than by going directly to the manufacturer – a markup of about $13,000, LACCD Inspector General Christine Marez said in her report.

That investigation was triggered after a whistle-blower reported the district was being charged “outrageous and unacceptable” prices.

Read the article here: dailybreeze.com


California Seeks Probe of Alleged Community College Job Rigging

From the  Los Angeles Times

State auditors have urged the Los Angeles Community College District to seek a criminal investigation into allegations that the selection of an inspector general to police the district’s troubled construction program was rigged.

California State Controller John Chiang

 
Jeffrey Brownfield, chief auditor for state Controller John Chiang, told the district’s Board of Trustees that an independent probe was needed to determine how the district allegedly violated its own bidding rules in choosing someone with no experience in audits or investigations over higher-rated applicants.

The district created the inspector general’s office last year to investigate possible fraud and corruption in the $5.7-billion program to rebuild its nine aging campuses.

Read the article here:   Los Angeles Times


Rail Authority Spends Hundreds of Millions With Little Oversight

From  California Watch

California is about to build the largest public works project in the state’s history: a system of high-speed, electric passenger trains. And even before a spade of dirt is turned, perhaps late next year, the state will have spent about $630 million.

What does California have to show for it?

Thousands of pages of strategies, studies and plans – and a chorus of concern over the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s budget management and its ability to monitor an army of consultants.

The Fresno Bee, as part of a project with California Watch, has examined the rail authority’s 15-year budget history and current consulting contracts. By far, the largest chunks of cash have been paid to consultants and contractors hired by the authority, which has only a small in-house administrative staff.

Read the article here:  California Watch


Nicole Bershon, LAPD Commission IG, Steps Down

From the  Los Angeles Times

After little more than a year on the job, the head of the watchdog agency that keeps tabs on the Los Angeles Police Department announced Tuesday that she is leaving her post.

Nicole Bershon, L.A. Police Commission IG

Nicole Bershon, who was selected as the L.A. Police Commission’s inspector general May 2010, is departing to accept a new position as a commissioner for the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In making the announcement at a commission meeting, Bershon said she would remain for a few weeks and did not know exactly when she would step down. Nicole Bershon, who was selected as the L.A. Police Commission’s inspector general

Read the article here:  Los Angeles Times


Brown to Eliminate CA IG

From the  Los Angeles Times

One of Gov.-elect   Jerry Brown‘s first official acts will be eliminating the state Office of Inspector General, a position held by former L.A. City Controller  Laura Chick, who has been responsible for overseeing more than $50 billion in federal stimulus money.

Brown’s office said in a statement Monday that he is closing the operation, whose function mimics those of other state agencies, to save money.

“Ending this redundancy will save the state’s General Fund over $700,000 in fiscal year 2010-11,” the statement said. Brown has promised to cut 25% of the governor’s office budget.

California Inspector General Laura Chick

Chick, who achieved a measure of celebrity in Los Angeles for her public criticism of government waste, is not going quietly.

After announcing that Brown was closing her doors, Chick said the Capitol needs more oversight, not less. She complained that her efforts to shine a light on wasteful spending in Sacramento have been stymied by entrenched bureaucrats more interested in preserving their power than in ensuring public accountability.

“The state is not run by elected officials; it’s run by very powerful, very knowledgeable civil servants,” Chick said, adding: “Things don’t change unless they want them to.”

Read the article here:  The Los Angeles Times


LA College Board Establishes Inspector General

The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees approved establishing an Office of Inspector General and launching a whistle-blower program, a pair of additional steps to tighten spending controls on the District’s $6 billion construction effort.

The board voted during March to unanimously to adopt the inspector general and whistle-blower resolutions. The votes follow other recent board actions to more tightly manage the LACCD’s construction operation, also known as the Sustainable Building Program:

  • In November, the board authorized bringing in an outside firm, Capstone Advisory Group LLC, to conduct an organizational review of the building program. Capstone’s work still is under way, but its preliminary suggestions gave rise to today’s adopted resolutions to create an Office of Inspector General and the whistle-blower program.
  • The board also recently voted to reduce the “multiplier,” or markup, that firms participating in the management of the building program can charge the District for employing building program staff.

“We are taking these steps to tighten controls and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately,” said Dr. Tyree Wieder, Interim Chancellor of the LACCD.

Most of the funds for the building program, which is carrying out major modernization efforts at all of the District’s nine colleges and has gained widespread attention for its environmental friendly practices, come from bond measures totaling $5.7 billion. The measures were passed by voters in 2001, 2003 and 2008

The Inspector General resolution, while noting that the building program undergoes annual audits, said that there also is “a need for ongoing monitoring of the management of bond-funded projects and appropriateness of related expenditures district-wide.” It said that the inspector general “will be responsible for the objective on-going review of performance, financial integrity and legal compliance of the bond construction program.”

The Inspector General will report directly to the Board of Trustees, with day-to-day oversight from the District Chancellor. The resolution does not specify either the budget for the Office of Inspector General or the length of service, but it potentially could continue through the completion of construction, which is expected in 2014.

The Office of Inspector General will have the authority to monitor, and recommend corrective steps on, contracting and all other business practices of the building program.