Tuesday, August 01, 2017

This is why I was always wondered if we should even have an IG's office

Eventually it just ends up eating itself.
A top official at the city agency tasked with ferreting out corruption in local government in New Orleans is herself facing allegations of misconduct, leveled in a scathing internal report.

The document accuses Assistant Inspector General Nadiene Van Dyke of steering contracts to friends, altering the findings of reports to fit “her personal agendas,” suggesting that receipts be falsified and running off employees who raised questions about her behavior.

The allegations against Van Dyke, who heads the agency’s Inspections and Evaluations Division, echo the kinds of charges the Office of Inspector General regularly levels against other city agencies.
At the end of the day, the office that is supposed to ferret out all the political corruption, is itself just another political office used for political.. and sometimes corrupt political.. purposes. 
Much of the report focuses on Van Dyke’s relationship with Paula Pendarvis, a media consultant hired by the office who is a personal friend of Van Dyke’s. The contracts given to Pendarvis in recent years add up to about $178,400 since 2014, some of which the report argues amount to duplicative services. Contractors working for Pendarvis received another $100,000.

Tim Meche, an attorney for Pendarvis, said his client had not seen the report and denied that she had ever been paid twice for the same work and said there was no case in which she was paid for work she didn't do.

According to the report, Van Dyke set up some of those contracts as cooperative endeavor agreements rather than putting them out to bid so that the contracts could be given to Pendarvis. The report says Van Dyke told an OIG employee who has since left the office, “Paula’s my good friend, we go out to dinner all the time, she does great work, and I’m going to give her a contract.”
And maybe that's kind of petty but that's also kind of the point. At its best, the IG's office discourages ethically questionable favoritism that sometimes may or may not lead to inefficient service delivery in government. In this case, though, we find it's actually participating in that.

At its worst, it inhibits oversight of police abuse.
The internal report also includes allegations from several current and former employees that Van Dyke treated minorities in the office in a demeaning manner. And it recounts clashes — some with racial overtones — between Van Dyke and Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson, suggesting those conflicts planted the seeds for the feud that ultimately led to the splitting of the two offices.
So we have to ask, again, what is this office for, exactly?

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