Rep. Robert Lancia (R-Dist. 16, Cranston) is submitting legislation to establish the office of inspector general to combat fraud and waste throughout Rhode Island.
“We have been fighting for an Inspector General for years. Now, with our state facing one of the worst budget shortfalls in recent history, we need to take action,” said Rep. Lancia.
The office of inspector general would serve as an independent organization designed to investigate and root out any allegations of abuse, fraud, waste, or mismanagement of public funds at the federal, state, and local level. The inspector general will have the power to subpoena records and testimony from government agencies, quasi-public bodies, and contractors receiving public funds. If the inspector general’s office discovers fraud or abuse, they will work with the attorney general to file civil or criminal charges.
To ensure transparency, a panel made up of the governor, attorney general, general treasurer, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, speaker and minority leaders of the house of representatives, and the president and minority leader of the senate would appoint the inspector general. The inspector would then serve out a single five-year term during which time they would be barred from seeking or holding political office.
In addition, the office of inspector general would also submit an annual report detailing cost saving measures the state could undertake to reduce the amount of public funds wasted each year.
The bill is a bipartisan effort cosponsored by representatives Shanley, Walsh, Mendonca, and Vella-Wilkinson and has the support of over thirty representatives.
Rep. Evan Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) expressed hope saying: “We need to do more to restore taxpayer confidence in our state government. Establishing an inspector general is an important first step in this process.”
“This bipartisan piece of legislation will do wonders to ensure Rhode Island taxpayer money is spent effectively and efficiently,” stated Rep. Moira Walsh (D-Dist. 3, Providence).
Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) said: “Independence, transparency, accountability and oversight are all critical to the office of the inspector general. However, I don’t want these guiding principles to be reduced to empty buzzwords. Our taxpayers, including small business owners, deserve more than that.”
Rep. Ken Mendonça (R-Dist. 72, Middletown, Portsmouth) feels the inspector general will act as a deterrent to corruption. Rep. Mendonça said: “an [office of inspector general] is analogous to having a large dog in your front yard as a deterrent to crime. In the case of the state, an [office of inspector general] is a watchdog for the taxpayer.”
Rep. Lancia and his fellow cosponsors will be holding a press conference in the rotunda of the State House on Thursday, March 1, 2018, at 3pm.
“The citizens of this state are sick of wasteful government spending. We are scrambling to fill a multimillion-dollar budget gap for this year alone. This bill could be exactly what Rhode Island needs to get our fiscal house in order,” stated Rep. Lancia