The Atlanta City Council will hold a special called meeting on Friday, Jan. 17, at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall in the wake of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ issuing a surprise executive order on Monday to create an Office of Inspector General for the city.
As INtown previously reported, the administration and city council had been hammering out details about creating the office for two month. Bottoms gave no explanation for her decision to issue the executive order, which also put the functions and operations of the current Independent Compliance Officer, the City Auditor and the City Ethics Office under the authority of the IG’s office.
Council President Felicia A. Moore today released the statement below, which alludes to “concerns and opposition” about the legislation to create the IG’s office, along with giving context to the timeline of creating the office.
“With the 2020 legislative session underway, the majority of stakeholders show strong support for the immediate creation of an Office of the Inspector General by the city. Many significant and collaborative steps have already been taken toward the realization of this goal.
To date, the Council adopted, by ordinance, legislation creating the Office of Independent Compliance and the Board of Ethics and Independent Compliance. This ordinance also included the establishment of an Independent Compliance Officer with duties mirroring those of an Inspector General. The ordinance was drafted in collaboration with the city’s Ethics Office. Subsequent to the adoption of this ordinance, the Administration convened the Taskforce for the Promotion of Public Trust to evaluate the efficacy of the city’s current legislative and administrative policies and procedures relative to ethics, transparency, and compliance. I was engaged during all taskforce meetings and thoroughly reviewed their final report.
Approximately one month later, I issued correspondence to the Council and Administration urging that we move forward with the creation of the Office of the Inspector General. I was informed that conversations between the Administration and some Council members had begun, ultimately resulting in the development of a charter amendment creating a super board comprised of Ethics, Audit, and newly added Compliance members.
As with any significant change, the proposed legislation has been met with concerns and opposition from multiple parties. To the ongoing discourse, I shall also add a proposed solution for consideration by stakeholders. An ordinance to amend the currently adopted legislation creating the Office of Compliance can be introduced, changing the title from Independent Compliance Officer to Inspector General and adding additional language as needed. The Board of Ethics and Independent Compliance can be renamed to reflect the title of Inspector General. A charter amendment can be introduced simultaneously or at a later date. This approach will allow the Office of the Inspector General to be created in a timely manner while allowing for viable opposing perspectives to be explored.
As President of the Atlanta City Council, I assert that there is still a bit more due diligence left to perform and additional recommendations to consider. We find ourselves at this juncture, in part, due to our historical tendency toward embracing some stakeholder perspectives while excluding others. I encourage the Council to continue moving forward with this effort while also cautioning members to fully absorb the facts presented by those in opposition to the current iteration of this legislation. Remember, the opposing voices also qualify as members of the public. Is promoting the trust of this segment of our citizenry not important? Let us move swiftly to get the job done and most importantly, let us do it well.”