News From NJ Senate Democrats
Released on: March 14, 2005
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SENATE APPROVES KENNY’S BIPARTISAN INSPECTOR GENERAL BILL
TRENTON – The Senate today approved a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny Jr. to create a permanent Office of Inspector General.
“The Inspector General will be the point person to root out profligate spending and mismanagement at all levels of government in New Jersey,” said Senator Kenny, D-Hudson.
The measure, S-2195, would make permanent the executive order signed by Acting Gov. Codey who appointed lawyer Mary Jane Cooper of Titusville to be his Inspector General. It passed 37-1 and now goes to the Assembly.
“Government contractors have to know that someone is watching them for the benefit of our taxpayers,” Senator Kenny said.
He said the fledgling office already has turned the focus on spending practices by the State’s School Construction Fund where rates of expenditures reportedly outpaced those of locally generated school building projects.
Under the bill, the Attorney General or appropriate county prosecutor would be informed of any criminality found by the Inspector General who would coordinate communications among investigatory bodies to avoid duplication, Senator Kenny said.
A five-year term and the freedom to hire professional financial experts with a $3 million startup budget will ensure that the Inspector General is protected from changing political tides, Senator Kenny said.
Funding for the office will be supplied from existing funds which were unspent in other State accounts, Senator Kenny said.
The Inspector General’s Office would be in, but not of the Department of Treasury and would be authorized to initiate probes of contracts and other spending practices at every level of State, county and local government, including commissions and authorities.
“The Inspector General’s Office will provide the needed focus so independent probes are seen through to completion,” Senator Kenny said.
The nominee for Inspector General would require Senate confirmation and could be removed from office only for cause.
The Republican prime sponsor of the bill is Senator Nicholas Asselta, R-Cape May.