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Reps Want Inspector General Post for Fraud

Legislation introduced by Larry Valencia, and co-sponsored by James Sheehan, would establish an inspector general in Rhode Island with subpoena powers.

Release courtesy of the Legislative Press Bureau.

Rep. Larry Valencia (D-Dist. 39, Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton) held a press conference today on his legislation that would create the Office of the Inspector General – an independent way to promote good government and reduce waste, fraud, mismanagement and corruption.

For its small size, Valencia said Rhode Island has seen more than its fair share of corrupt governmental practices. He pointed to the 2009 audit of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, which revealed losses of $75 million due to mismanagement in the state’s trash agency.

However, the financial loss was not revealed until it was too late to prosecute anyone. Under the provisions of Valencia’s legislation (2013-H 5363), the Office of Inspector General would have subpoena and investigative powers to allow for the prosecution of potential wrongdoers in real-time, before the stature of limitations runs out.

Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Sen. James C. Sheehan sponsor companion bills (2013-S 0266, 2013-S 0612) in the Senate.

The inspector general would be appointed by a majority vote of the governor, attorney general and general treasurer for one five-year term and would be selected without regard for political affiliation.

This individual, who would be in charge of conducting investigations involving public expenditures, would need a demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, investigation or criminal justice administration.

Similar bills creating the Office of the Inspector General have been introduced in previous years as an effort to increase the transparency of state government and keep a watchful eye on taxpayer money.

“I want to reduce the influence of money and special interest in government,” Valencia said. “State officials and agencies should be held accountable for their actions. Taxpayers should be comfortably assured that state funds are going toward relevant purposes that seek to benefit the broader Rhode Island community.”

The proposed bill is modeled after a section of the general laws of Massachusetts, which established the Office of the Inspector General in 1981. This office led to the discovery of more than $100 million in overrun costs related to the Big Dig construction project.

Since then, at least 17 other states have established such offices and have experienced savings and monetary recoveries that greatly outweigh the cost of maintaining the office.

“State government is still a large operation, and I think it’s absolutely necessary for us to have an office dedicated to targeting fraud and waste,” Valencia said. “Rhode Islanders want an open, efficient and trustworthy government. We need this bill to remind the government that its job, first and foremost, is to serve the people rather than themselves.”

Cosponsors of the House bill include Representatives Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston), Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket).

For an electronic version of this and all press releases published by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, please visit their Web site at http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/News.

Joe McLaughlin April 11, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Right, let's hire another public official, probably someone's relative or contributorgive him/her a big fat salary at taxpayers' expense, then they get a nice, fatter pension with a compounded cola. GImme a break, these slimeball politicians should be placed under arrest for negligent homicide--they are killing this State. All they want is to grab more revenue to spend it to pay for people in Providence. Everything with these jokers is sleight of hand... I wouldn't trust Sheehan or Valencia to walk my dog... what another cheap trick.
Joe McLaughlin April 11, 2013 at 05:32 AM
Don't forget the I.G. will need staff... lots of jobs for nieces, nephews, aunties and uncles.. MOVE OUT OF RHODE ISLAND
Govstench April 12, 2013 at 02:07 AM
These people are all self serving tin gods. Valencia and Sheehan have been feeding off the public tax rolls and enjoying it. Now they have the true socialist Tanzi with the goofy smile running around with her bags of tricks to further rob people of their freedoms. Inspector general? Yeah right - they would turn that into another Attorney General who does nothing except offer legislation that would give him absolute power to grant conceiled gun permits. YOu want a license for a gun, contribute $1000 to my campaign - no problem! They live in another world and the surfs continue to pay for it. People, the ship is sinking and it is time to leave.

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