Abolish the Office of Governmental Accountability

When Governor Malloy took office in 2011, he sought to reduce the cost of state government by, amongst other things, consolidating certain state agencies. One of the consolidation efforts resulted in the creation of the Office of Governmental Accountability (OGA), which became the umbrella organization for the state’s three main “watchdog” agencies–the Freedom of Information and State Elections and Enforcement commissions and the Office of State Ethics–and several other state agencies. See Public Act 11-48, sec. 58.

In concept, the OGA was a good idea. It sought to achieve economic efficiencies by creating a single entity to provide back office services (e.g., payroll, human resources, information technology, etc.) to a number of different agencies, instead of having each agency perform those functions itself.

In the real word, however, the OGA has been a failure. The consolidation itself did not save money; rather, minimal savings resulted from eliminating positions within each agency, which could have been accomplished without consolidation. Also, the two individuals who have served as Executive Administrators of the OGA took the position that they reported to the governor, not to the agencies they served. Although the statute and its legislative history make clear that the agencies have the power to evaluate and terminate the Executive Administrator, past occupants of the position argued that because the governor appoints them (from a short list the agencies create), the governor is the boss. (Shelby Browne, the most recent Executive Administrator, recently resigned.)

The turmoil resulting from the creation and operation of the OGA has hurt the watchdog agencies and their ability to perform their vital government oversight functions. And the argument that consolidating the agencies under the OGA would save money has been proved false. The state should terminate the OGA experiment and restore full independence to the watchdog agencies. (See The Hartford Courant recent editorial making the same proposal.)

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