And in an unusual step, council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) recently requested that Willoughby explain delays in investigations and answer questions about the school testing probe.
“We are concerned that a delay in producing reports compromises everyone’s ability to [uncover] fraud, abuse and waste, and undermines the public’s confidence in the OIG and their confidence in the District’s government as a whole,” McDuffie, chairman of the council’s Government Operations Committee, wrote in a letter to Willoughby.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said he supports McDuffie’s efforts to review Willoughby’s effectiveness.
Willoughby, the inspector general since 2005, declined to be interviewed about the criticism or about his office in general. His top deputy, Blanche Bruce, said that “the reports that this office issues speak for themselves.”
In a Jan. 18 letter responding to McDuffie, Willoughby said, “It is incumbent that the OIG’s work not be conducted through the press or media.” He also said it is crucial that his office’s work be “as thorough and accurate as possible,” but that it also be done “as expeditiously as possible.”
The lottery investigation was requested in July 2009, after suspicions about the contract award became fodder for political attacks during a heated mayoral campaign. Two members of then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s Cabinet — then-Attorney General Peter J. Nickles and then-procurement chief David P. Gragan — urged Willoughby to examine the contract, including council members’ handling of it.
It was 18 months before Willoughby issued a report. It totaled 19 pages, and although it cited some contracting irregularities, it did not find wrongdoing by council members. The report addressed allegations that council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) had offered to support one lottery bidder in return for that bidder’s withdrawing from an unrelated land deal with Metro. Graham served on the Metro board at the time. Investigators concluded that there was not “sufficient evidence to support or conclude that the councilmember had acted improperly.”
But a subsequent investigation, undertaken on behalf of the Metro board, concluded that Graham had offered a quid pro quo that constituted a violation of the board’s code of conduct. Graham has denied wrongdoing, and the matter is under review by the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.