Atlanta City Council, mayor agree on inspector general post
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signs legislation on Feb. 6 to create the office of city inspector general. Credit: Maggie Lee
By Maggie Lee
With City Council votes and the mayor’s signature this month, Atlanta is getting ready to join the ranks of cities that have an inspector general to watch over ethics and procurement.
Now to find funding.
“This really has been a joint effort. And it has taken countless hours from the members of our administrative team along with leaders from the Atlanta City Council … as a whole,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Thursday as she signed legislation creating the post of city inspector general.
The mayor and Council will be a step removed from hiring the IG. The legislation creates a Governing Board of the Office of the Inspector General, which is an evolution on from the city’s Board of Ethics. Nominations to that new board will be made by several business and professional groups. Elected leaders will then make the appointments to that board, and that board will hire the IG.
“I’ve been pushing for this for a long time,” said Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore said.
Moore had concerns about an early version of the legislation which would have folded the city’s independent auditors into this new office. But under the final version, audit will be left independent.
“I think the most important thing is everyone coming into an agreement, from the mayor’s office to the Council members, on how they want to move forward, and we are actually moving forward,” Moore said.
Last year, Council approved the creation of the post of independent compliance officer, which Moore has said is pretty much an inspector general in all but name. With disagreement between the mayor and some members of Council, that office got $800,000 in funding, but a leader has never been hired.
That $800,000 could be used for the compliance piece in the new IG’s department, Moore said. And Council can also appropriate other funds even before the next budget cycle begins.
Bottoms, at the ceremony to sign the legislation, mentioned part of what’s behind the transparency moves lately: a federal investigation that’s put a handful of people in prison for corruption under the previous administration.
“Quite often we look in the newspaper and we see stories about what’s happening inside the City Hall and who’s gotten trouble today and what’s happening over at the federal courthouse,” Bottoms said. “And I can’t stress enough that each and every day we had over 8500 employees who get up. And they do an honest day’s work.”
IG legislation from Atlanta City Council, 19-O-1729