TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny Jr. and Senator Nicholas Asselta today introduced bipartisan legislation to establish an Office of the Inspector General to root out wasteful spending, mismanagement and fraud at all levels of government in New Jersey.
“New Jersey’s Inspector General will fight to ensure that all government spending is backed by integrity, accountability and fiscal prudence,” said Senator Kenny, D-Hudson. “We cannot ask the people of New Jersey to trust our guardianship of $28 billion in annual State spending unless we take forceful action to eliminate all wasteful expenditures.”
“Accountability in government spending is one of our most important responsibilities,” said Senator Asselta, R-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic. “This bill will help us restore trust with our taxpayers.”
The Inspector General, to be chosen by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation, would serve a five-year term and could not be removed except for cause. The IG would be barred from seeking elected office for at least two years after leaving the position.
“The Office of Inspector General will be armed with subpoena power while conducting audits, investigations, performance reviews and oversight of all recipients of State funds,” Senator Kenny said. “It will not be designed as a springboard for higher office.”
The Inspector General will answer directly to the Governor, but will be located in the State Treasurer’s Office.
“It’s the Governor’s responsibility to ensure that the expenditure of tax dollars is done with the utmost integrity and ethics,” Senator Kenny said. “The Office of Inspector General will centralize that oversight responsibility by monitoring spending and purchases by State departments, authorities, local and county governments and boards of education.”
Under the legislation which would carry out the directives in Executive Order 7 which Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed last month, the Office of Inspector General would receive a $3 million appropriation and would be authorized to retain certified public accountants and other financial professionals needed to carry out audits and other investigations.
Allegations of criminal conduct would be referred to the Attorney General’s Office. The Inspector General would be authorized to conduct joint investigations with other oversight or law enforcement authorities and could be part of probes by other oversight or law enforcement agencies in New Jersey.
Under the bill, the Inspector General would be required to meet at least twice a year with the Attorney General, the State Treasurer and the State Auditor to ensure proper oversight and cooperation with all investigations.
The Inspector General’s findings in all audits, investigations and performance reviews along with “recommendations for corrective or remedial action” would be forwarded to the Governor. Afterwards, the implementation of the recommendations would be monitored by the Inspector General.
In addition, the Office of Inspector General would be required to submit an annual report to the Governor and to the Legislature.
The Kenny-Asselta bill will be referred to the Senate State Government Committee.