Newly Passed Bill Will Give Pennsylvania Inspector General More Power

Jul 14, 2017

After vetoing a similar measure last year, Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign recently passed legislation that substantially changes the Office of State Inspector General.

The office was created in 1987 by Gov. Robert Casey through an executive order. Since then, it has grown to more than 300 employees and bill sponsor Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster County) said it needs to be codified to make sure a future governor does not eliminate the office.

The office is charged with finding waste, fraud and abuse in government programs.

“The case workers that they have that are finding frauds on applications and recovering restitutions with regards to welfare fraud … the return on investment there more than pays for that position,” Amuent said.

The bill gives the office subpoena power and limited ability to file criminal charges. A similar bill was passed by Republicans on a party-line vote and then vetoed by the governor.

“We were never really at a disagreement over the enhanced powers for the office and the additional work they would be able to do and no real disagreement over placing the office in statute,” Aument said. “The disagreement really centered around the independent provisions that we had written into the statute.”

Last year’s bill created a 6-year appointment for the head of the office and required Senate approval. The new bill eliminates the Senate oversight and creates terms that run concurrent with the governor.

Aument said he will keep a close eye on the office to make sure that it remains independent. To help with that effort, Senate Bill 527 would restrict dismissal of the head of the office to “for cause” only.