OIG: Under Pressure and Scrutiny Again
Guns, Cars, peace officers, who owns the decision?
Richard Krupp, Ph.D.
January 9, 2011
The Sacramento Bee on December 29, 2010 reported, Corrections inspector general to step down Thursday. “Inspector General David Shaw, whose office has come under scrutiny for perks given to its lawyers and auditors, has announced he is retiring.” At the time the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) had a budget of $26 million and 150 employees. Shaw had been in the job about two years. The prior Inspector General Matt Cate was appointed Secretary of Corrections on May 16, 2008. This office has been subject of political and media attention for some time now. How much independence and control is involved?
In January 2004, just prior to the Senate Select Committee on Government Oversight hearings on the California Correctional System, Governor Schwarzenegger fired John Chen, the acting Inspector General. Regis Lane was appointed to the job. Steve White left the previous year after being appointed to a state judgeship. The OIG office had been downsized during the prior two years. In 2002 the office had a budget of $11 million and 116 employees. By 2004 the budget was $2.8 million with a proposal from the Governor to reduce it further to $630,000 calling the agency a “waste.” At that time there were only 16 employees.
Senators Speier and Romero introduced legislation which bolstered the OIG office, added the Bureau of Independent Review (BIR) and made reports public. Shortly after the Senate hearings, the Governor appointed Matt Cate to the IG job on March 9, 2004, replacing Lane less than 45 days after he was appointed. According to a recent report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes,
In a bill authored by Senator Gloria Romero along with support by then Senator Jackie Speier, the BIR was created within the OIG in response to the federal courts’ finding that CDCR internal affairs investigations into excessive use of force in prisons were “counterfeit” and “were pursued in order to avoid finding officer misconduct as often as possible.” Madrid v. Gomez. To remedy the violations, the special master recommended the creation of the BIR to perform “real time monitoring” of internal affairs cases related to abuse of force and violations of employee ethics.
Because the court wanted the new bureau up and running immediately and the Legislature had enacted the statute creating the BIR effective immediately, the Governor appointed people into positions to perform the duties set forth in Penal Code section 6133. The new employees were called SAIGs. The thought was that a new civil service classification would be created but, because the process would take several months and possibly more than a year, using appointed positions was the only way to comply with the Legislature’s statutory intent and the court’s desire to implement corrective remedies as soon as possible. Indeed it took over two years for the civil service class of SAIG to be approved and implemented. In January of 2007, the Department of Personnel Administration and the State Personnel Board approved the creation of the civil service classification of Special Assistant Inspector General.
Within a few months, Cate issued a report on the OIG’s newly created Bureau of Independent Review, Bureau of Independent Review, Semi-annual report, Jan-June 2005. Here are some highlights:
- The Office of the Inspector General is the state agency charged with independent oversight of California’s correctional system. Established in 1998, the office has undergone a significant number of changes in structure and staffing in recent years as its statutory mandate has expanded. One of the most important of these changes was addition of the Bureau of Independent Review in 2004.
- As Inspector General, it has been my responsibility and privilege to assist the bureau in its formation. Staffing of the bureau began in July 2004 with the hiring of David Shaw — a former Sacramento County prosecutor with extensive law enforcement experience at the federal, state and local level — as the bureau’s chief attorney. By mid-January 2005, the bureau’s three regional offices in Rancho Cordova, Bakersfield, and Rancho Cucamonga had been fully staffed with attorneys selected through a vigorous statewide recruitment effort, and at this writing the bureau is in the process of hiring investigators to pair with these attorneys in the oversight of internal affairs investigations.
- To accomplish its goals, the Bureau of Independent Review was built on a solid foundation of several important components. The first has been the commitment of significant resources by the Office of the Governor, not the least of which was the granting of 13 gubernatorial appointments to the bureau so that experienced attorneys with diverse backgrounds could be rapidly hired.
- The next major addition to the bureau’s professional staff will be deputy inspector general investigators to assist the staff attorneys in monitoring internal affairs investigations. These 11 permanent full-time positions, approved in the state budget passed in July 2005, will be hired as soon as the mandatory peace officer background investigations and associated civil service requirements are completed
- In addition to Chief Assistant Inspector General David R. Shaw, who heads the Bureau of the Independent Review, the bureau hired 11 full-time attorneys to staff its three regional offices in Rancho Cordova, Bakersfield, and Rancho Cucamonga. Senior attorneys, who are classified as senior assistant inspectors general, are distributed among three offices: one at the headquarters office in Sacramento, California, and the other three in the northern, central, and southern California regional offices.
- The staff attorneys, who are classified as special assistant inspectors general, were selected for each office so as to complement each other’s legal expertise in criminal, civil rights, and public employment law.
- Because Bureau of Independent Review attorneys and investigators are sworn peace officers, in February they attended Penal Code section 832 training.
It appears that the formation of the BIR, the peace officer status of employees, etc was accomplished by Inspector General Matt Cate with the assistance of David Shaw. In The OIG Annual Report for 2005 the following is reported by Cate:
The fiscal year 2004-05 Budget Act restored 53 employee positions and $8.3 million in funding to the Office of the Inspector General, with the Legislature reversing a 2003 effort to abolish the office. The following fiscal year, the 2005- 06 Budget Act increased funding to $15.4 million and a total of 95.8 employee positions. The funding increases resulted from a budget change proposal for 23.8 additional positions and $3.6 million in General Fund monies, less miscellaneous adjustments, to allow the Office of the Inspector General to continue independent oversight of the correctional system through audits and investigations and for an additional 19 positions and $3 million to fulfill the mandates of Senate Bill 737.
In the November 30, 2010 report Gun-Toting Auditors and Attorneys: Does the Inspector General Need 105 Armed Peace Officers? California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes indicates the following:
- We found that the peace-officer designation stems from the unsupported premise that OIG staff must be prepared to stave off violence and wield weaponry. In reality, such actions seldom if ever arise in these job categories. We also found that OIG uses peace officer perquisites – generous pensions and take-home state cars – to attract and retain its professional team of lawyers and auditors.
- The OIG workforce has tripled in the last six years, from 48 to 150. At the same time, the proportion of peace officers has also grown: from 44% in 2003 to 70% today. Much of the growth at OIG was the result of the creation in 2004 of a Bureau of Independent Review.
- In the two OIG bureaus that house the attorneys and auditors, 98% were not peace officers before signing on with the Inspector General.
The men who hold high places, the leaders, should hold their mistakes up. Good news and accolades should be delivered by mangers closer to the operations; dealing with bad news and problems is the purview of leaders. It appears that the growth in funding, staff, and peace officer status occurred during the Matt Cate tenure as Inspector General. It does not appear he was insulated from the decisions he describes fully in public reports. He was in charge and owns the decision, not David Shaw.
The current posting on the OIG website for Special Assistant Inspector General, Bureau of Independent Review indicates “FREE PARKING, VEHICLE PROVIDED, EXCLUDED FROM BARGAINING.”