Dear Association Members and Friends,
“Things are not always what they seem.”
(Phaedrus, Roman Fable Writer, 50 AD)
Many times over the course of my career trying criminal cases, I quoted these words to criminal juries as a means of getting them to carefully examine and test evidence, rather than accepting things at face value. Today, in January of 2015, they take on new and special relevance for me as the Inspector General from the State of Louisiana, and now, the newly elected President of the Association of Inspectors General.
You might ask how we ended up here. How does an Inspector General from Louisiana become President of an international organization whose members have dedicated themselves to fighting fraud and corruption in government? Some might call it irony, but I believe the answer is simple: “Things aren’t always as they seem.”
As a native and lifelong resident of Louisiana, I will be the first to admit that my home state has enjoyed a special reputation for public corruption over the years. Much of that reputation was well earned. I can also attest personally, though, that in Louisiana, “The times they are a changin’…”
When I was first approached about becoming Louisiana’s Inspector General in 2007, I sensed that the tide of public opinion had shifted dramatically. The jokes were no longer funny. Louisiana citizens were sick and tired of corruption in government and wanted to do something about it. And they did. The creation of strong statewide and municipal OIGs is the proof in the pudding. Through partnerships with law enforcement and prosecutors, the likelihood of arrest and prosecution for those who abuse the public trust has increased. And it is definitely making a difference. I am hopeful that my election as President will be recognized as a sign of the progress being made in Louisiana. I count it an honor.
So, what are my goals as President? Here are some broad strokes: First, I recognize that there is an incredible amount of brainpower in the AIG, and I propose to take full advantage of it. There is a deep well of experience and expertise from which to draw. I look forward to working with our Vice Presidents — Bob Clift, Barry Kluger and Patra Liu — and the Board of Directors to move the IG community forward. The Association’s many active committees are a good place to start, and I encourage our members to become involved.
I want AIG to continue to build upon the things that we do well, like conducting first-class professional certification institutes and conferences. I also believe we should continue discussions about developing state of the art online training and other educational opportunities. We will continue to strive to meet the training needs of every office of inspector general.
I am passionate about promoting and defending the IG concept – especially in those places where it is under attack. AIG is viewed by most as the standard bearer for the IG community, and I believe we shouldn’t hesitate to defend best practices in those cases where OIGs and IGs themselves have been wrongly criticized or hindered for doing the difficult job of holding government accountable. I would also like for us to be a resource to both the IG community and those jurisdictions that are considering the creation of an OIG.
Here are a few new things on the horizon: In the near future, we hope to send a survey to the membership to try and identify new ways to serve the IG community. This idea was initially proposed by Board of Directors Member and John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor Ned Benton at the recent Board meeting in Newark. You can also look forward to our upcoming edition of IG News in which we will be profiling our newly elected AIG Board members. We are also gearing up for the February 2015 Inspector General Institute® to be held in Virginia Beach, VA where we hope to have a strong Navy presence. Applications are still being accepted.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the outstanding service and dedication of our outgoing President, Melinda Miguel, Chief Inspector General for the State of Florida. Over the past four years, the AIG has made tremendous progress under her leadership. I value her friendship and counsel, and look forward to her continuing involvement in making the AIG the best it can be.
Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year, I remain
Stephen B. Street, Jr., AIG National President