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By Sean Gorman December 7, 2011

New inspector general office to open in July

Bob McDonnell vowed during his 2009 gubernatorial campaign to create a state watchdog to probe allegations of wrongdoing in state agencies.

"Bob McDonnell will transform the state internal auditor into an inspector general with enhanced authority to proactively pursue citizen complaints concerning fraud, waste and abuse in state government,” his campaign said in a May 2009 news release.

What happened to that promise?

This year, McDonnell signed legislation to create a central inspector general's office to investigate charges of malfeasance within state government. The office is scheduled to open July 1, 2012.

The state now has inspectors general at five departments: transportation, corrections, juvenile justice, behavioral health and developmental services. The law will consolidate their work under the direction of a single inspector general who will be appointed by the governor to a four-year term, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.

The new inspector general, who has not yet been named, will be empowered to probe complaints about abuse at any state agency and any non-state agency that's "wholly or principally supported by state funds.”

Taylor Thornley, a spokeswoman for the governor, said the scope of the new inspector's office will be "much broader and more comprehensive than anything we've ever had before.”

"The new inspector general has the ability to search anywhere in state government for fraud, waste and abuse,” Thornley said in an e-mail. "Previously, only a few, select agencies had IGs that only covered those specific agencies. The IG can now receive complaints from citizens, not just state employees like in the past.”

Staffing for the office will be outlined in a transition report that's due on December 31, 2011, Taylor said. Details on the budget for the new office were not available, but Taylor said the governor can fund it through administrative accounts -- meaning he will not have to ask the General Assembly for money.

Sure, there are details to be worked out before the office opens, but they don't require actions beyond the governor's control. McDonnell has been following through on his pledge to create a new inspector general's office, and we rate it a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

McDonnell for Governor, "McDonnell and Bolling announce good government plan,” May 2009.

E-mails from Taylor Thornley, spokeswoman for Governor Bob McDonnell, November 29, 2011 and December 2, 2011.

Interview with Delegate Bob Brink, December 1, 2011.

Interview with Walter Kucharski, Virginia auditor of public accounts, December 1, 2011.

Governor Bob McDonnell, "Governor McDonnell announces reform initiatives for 2011 legislative session,” January 13, 2011.

Governor Bob McDonnell, "Governor McDonnell signs government reform legislation eliminating 49 boards and commissions; removing unfunded mandates on localities; establishing Inspector General to investigate fraud in state government,”  April 12, 2011.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, "State poised to create new watchdog agency,”February 14, 2011.

Legislative Information Systems, House Bill 2076, April 6, 2011.

Interview with Phil Zisman, executive director of the Association of Inspectors General, December 5, 2011.

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