Atlanta council close to forming Inspector General office

City councilmembers inched a step closer Wednesday to approving a new Office of Inspector General, a department intended to guard against corruption at City Hall as three federal investigations continue to cast a cloud over the administration.

The inspector general office was approved at the city’s Finance Executive Committee meeting. It still needs two additional votes without substantive changes before it becomes law: It will head back to the Committee on Council and the full City Council on Feb. 3.

If the office is approved, there would be three divisions that would report to the inspector general’s office: ethics, independent procurement officers, and compliance. They would all control their own budgets, but the inspector general would coordinate and oversee their investigations.

The current ethics and compliance board will select the inspector general, who along with the ethics officer, will have the power to issue subpoenas.

The new inspector general’s office would be separate from the auditor’s office, which conducts audits on the city’s spending and other records.

As one of the three divisions reporting to the new office, the city’s Independent Procurement Officers will review all stages of the procurement process and spot-check contracts involving more than $1 million.

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The Ethics Division will police the city’s code of conduct, including conflicts of interest and the filing of financial disclosures. And the Compliance Division would “investigate and take appropriate action” regarding, among other things, “the performance and financial operation of all departments, offices, boards, activities and agencies of the city,” in which the auditor determines the presence of fraud, waste and abuse.

The inspector general ordinance and charter amendment would add yet another layer of oversight as the city awaits results of ongoing investigations by the Department of Justice, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

— Staff writer Stephen Deere contributed to this report. 

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