Tag Archives: chicago inspector general

Chicago Inspector General Releases 63 ‘Budget Options,’ Proposes $3 Billion in Savings for 2012

Different year. Different administration. Same story: the city of Chicago has a fiscal mess to clean up.

To that end, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson releases a “Budget Options Report” meant to “support efforts to balance the budget by arming the public and City officials with context, basic data, and analysis needed to inform the tough choices ahead.”

The report includes some 63 options that would purportedly save upwards of $3 billion. Here are a few examples highlighted by the IG’s office:

  • Reducing the ratio of managers to non-supervisory employees in City government to save more than $100,000,000 annually
  • Eliminating all Tax Increment Financing Districts to increase tax revenues to the City’s general fund by an estimated $100 million annually
  • Increasing the work week of all City employees to 40 hours to save approximately $40 million annually
  • Implement Congestion Pricing for vehicular traffic that is estimated to generate an additional annual revenues of $235 million

Here’s the statement from the IG’s office:

September 26, 2011

Focused on meeting its mandate of promoting efficiency and effectiveness in City government, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) today released its annual report of Budget Options for the City.

The IGO’s Budget Options report for the 2012 budget provides a total of 44 separate, stand-alone options to cut spending. This year’s report also includes 19 possible revenue generating options, including new or restructured taxes, tolls, and fees. In total, the 63 options detailed in the report provide background for nearly $3 billion in possible savings or new revenue for the City. Each option includes a brief overview of how proponents and opponents might argue each option, as well as a new section that notes important questions and discussion topics for the public and decision makers.

“In last year’s report, we provided data and analysis explaining that Chicago’s budget was fundamentally broken” said Inspector General Joseph Ferguson. “One year later, the situation remains difficult. The new Administration has candidly acknowledged the fiscal mess it inherited and has publicly committed itself to fixing it. This report is meant to support efforts to balance the budget by arming the public and City officials with context, basic data, and analysis needed to inform the tough choices ahead.”

The list of options is not meant to be an exhaustive one, and the inclusion of any option in this report is not, and should not be, construed as an endorsement by the IGO. The IGO intends to use public feedback and official responses to the report in order to provide periodic updates and corrections to this year’s report.

>> To view the online version of the budget options, which will include updates, and post your comments on the options go here.

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Filed under Fiscal Reform, Inspector General, Streamlining Government, TIFs

Inspector General to ‘Open Chicago’ With New Transparency Initiative

By Andy Shaw, BGA President & CEO

Image (remixed) courtesy withassociates/Flickr

Today I’m watching another group that watches the behavior of public officials and their governments—the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO)—which just announced a new transparency initiative dubbed “Open Chicago.”

This is a major step toward the level of transparency that Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis envisioned nearly a century ago when he called “sunlight the best disinfectant.”

You can’t assess a government you can’t see, and this transparency initiative will make it easier to shine a light on government and hold public officials accountable. Chicago taxpayers should be encouraged by the efforts of Joe Ferguson, an inspector general who is willing and eager to use all the tools at his disposal to facilitate the higher quality of government we deserve but too infrequently receive.

Here’s the release from the IG:

Chicago Inspector General Announces New Transparency Initiative “Open Chicago”

Citing the importance of promoting and enhancing transparency in City government Inspector General Joe Ferguson today announced “Open Chicago,” a new transparency initiative.

Hosted on the City of Chicago’s Office of Inspector General’s (IGO) newly redesigned website, the initiative is aimed at increasing the public’s understanding of City government and to further the IGO’s mandate of promoting economy, efficiency, effectiveness and integrity in the administration of the programs and operations of the City government.

“The mission of the IGO is to promote efficiency and effectiveness in government programs. Vindication of that mission requires accountability, which is elusive without transparency,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “Public information, necessary to the IGO’s understanding and assessment of government operations, is equally necessary to making City government more transparent to Chicago residents. With this initiative, the IGO is committing itself to making public data available utilized in the course of our work to inform our understanding of what the City does and how it does it.”

Open Chicago will have three main components: (i) increasing the transparency of the IGO’s audits and program reviews; (ii) publishing and linking to public, non-confidential City data on the IGO’s website; and (iii) identifying best practices in government transparency and accountability.

The goal of Open Chicago is to make City government more transparent. When appropriate, the IGO will ask the City departments responsible for public data to publish the data themselves. If City departments agree to these requests and publish the information in a manner that meets the Open Chicago criteria for true transparency, the IGO will simply link to this information on its website.

In response to the first Open Chicago request from the IGO, the City has published its Collective Bargaining Agreements with local unions, Single Audit Reports on Federal Grants, as well as the list of property the City leases. The IGO has provided these links on its website. Previously, the IGO posted an Excel version of the City’s budget.

“The City has made strides in committing itself to transparency, but gaps remain. The IGO is uniquely positioned to shore up those gaps, and our office has the knowledge to provide context for and analysis of City data, as well as the capabilities for making that data accessible to the public,” said Mr. Ferguson.

The IGO will periodically update its Open Chicago page with new datasets. Questions or suggestions for new data can be directed to openchicago@chicagoinspectorgeneral.org. Follow the IGO on Twitter at ChicagoIGO for the latest Open Chicago information, as well updates on how the IGO continues to fight waste, fraud, abuse, and inefficiency in Chicago government.

I’d love to read your comments about the initiative….

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Filed under Andy Shaw, Transparency

I.G. Joe: Ferguson’s truth-squad unearths troubling furlough findings

By Andy Shaw, BGA President & CEO


Way to go Joe! The value of an independent inspector general free of political pressure is once again writ large as Chicago I.G. Joe Ferguson unearths reporting inaccuracies in the city’s employee furlough program—those unpaid days off that city workers from Mayor Daley on down are forced to swallow to save money—and how the inaccuracies create serious budget and pension problems for Chicago taxpayers.

(Feb. 8, 2011) Inspector General Releases Report on City Furlough Program’s Impact on Pensions

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) released a report today stating that the City publicly overstated savings realized from its furlough program by $11.05 million. Additionally, the IGO report found that the furlough program will result in increasing the funding shortfall of City employees’ pension funds by approximately $24.55 million dollars.

“As the City tackles its daunting structural deficit, it is important the full impact of those efforts are accurately calculated and fully disclosed to the public,” said Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

Since mid-2009, the City has used furloughs (mandatory unpaid time off) as a way to cut costs, resulting in a reported savings of approximately $134 million.

However, the IGO found that the City actually saved $11.05 million less than has been reported….

>> CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT

This is the kind of information the City Council’s well-staffed Finance and Budget committees should be providing, but they don’t. So the BGA, and Chicago taxpayers, are grateful to Ferguson’s office, which—like the BGA—is expanding the scope of its mandate to include policy analysis and recommendations, in addition to investigations of waste, fraud and misconduct. Better government is a right and a responsibility, and if we all do our work smartly, aggressively and creatively—with the support of like-minded groups and citizens—it can become a reality.

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Filed under Andy Shaw, Commentary