City’s Inspector General quits, suggests strengthening the office

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Authority ‘not there’ for city of Houston investigative arm, Inspector General Bob Doguim says as he quits job – Steve Miller, Texas Watchdog

In Chicago, the office of the inspector general issues a quarterly report running dozens of pages describing the findings and results of its office. In Houston, the quarterly report amounts to simple tallies of cases closed. It took a public information request and a state Attorney General’s ruling to obtain all of the complaints fielded by its inspector general office. Even then the city attorney’s office violated the state’s open records law by failing to provide the records in a timely fashion.

And the office that was once said to be revamped via an executive order from Mayor Annise Parker has yet to issue a report on its findings over the past year.

The former FBI agent, Robert Doguim, hired to lead the office, stepped down. His last day was Friday. He lasted 14 months in the job and left on what he said were good terms. He also provided some candid advice to City Attorney David Feldman on how the office might operate in the future.

Be sure to read the entire Texas Watchdog piece.

We don’t have a big problem with Mayor Parker moving the Office of Inspector General under the Mayor’s Office in an effort to raise its prominence and authority, but as with many mayoral initiatives, the follow-through seemed lacking, and the Texas Watchdog story strongly implies that Dogium is departing because of lack of authority to do the job as he thinks it should be done.

Unfortunately, that’s not entirely surprising. Houston pols (and Texas pols generally, for that matter) like some oversight on ethics and transparency, but not too much oversight — hence the toothless nature of so many of these entities and their lack of independence (ultimately, Dogium is right that the office probably needs to be more autonomous, certainly not under the authority of the city attorney, who is usually a political ally of the mayor).

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX