D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe, who in recent years has released some highly critical reports regarding city agencies, is suddenly the focus of attention as the City Council looks for ways to enhance its investigatory powers.
The city has the Office of Inspector General, which reports to the mayor and is responsible for detecting fraud and mismanagement in city agencies. But the City Council is dissatisfied with the information it has received from that office and believes that Troupe would be more responsive to the council. The auditor works directly for the council.
During a recent budget hearing, the council asked Troupe what resources he would need to produce periodic reviews of every major city agency. Troupe responded by asking that the mayor's fiscal 1986 budget request for the auditor's office be increased from $617,000 and 17 full-time employes to $887,615 and 24 employes.
If the council granted that request, Troupe would have more employes than the inspector general's office, which has a proposed fiscal 1986 budget of $1 million and 16 employes. Some council members insist that with a larger staff, Troupe could produce audits that the council could use to make changes in agencies and save the city money.
In a letter to City Council Chairman David A. Clarke, Troupe said his office does a better job than the inspector general's office. "Although there is a difference in mandate, I would observe that an average salary of $45,000 in OIG versus the $31,000 for this office in fiscal year 1986 suggest that your auditor's office is far more productive and cost-effective," said Troupe, who added that even without the requested increase his office plans to produce 92 reports in fiscal 1986 compared to a projected 43 reports for the inspector general's office.
Troupe noted that both branches of government as well as the public have access to his reports, "while a substantial percentage of OIG reports are restricted under continuing gag order from the mayor," he said.
After receiving Troupe's letter, City Council member William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), chairman of the committee on government operations, recommended that the council shift three positions and $107,000 from the inspector general's office to the auditor's office.
"The reports and scope of work of the D.C. Auditor is accessible to both the council and the mayor." Spaulding wrote. "The council should be just as privileged as the mayor in the receipt of information from the inspector general."
Pauline Schneider, the mayor's director of intergovernmental relations, underscored that the inspector general works for the mayor.
"The inspector general was created for the mayor to help him improve internal management," said Schneider. "The council clearly has its own auditor."
Schneider was referring to Troupe, who has demonstated a willingness to be a lone ranger in criticizing the operations of some agencies and has been eager to provide the council with documents to back up his conclusions.
In 1982, Troupe reported that the developers of Bates Street had accounted for almost none of the nearly $4 million they had received from the city for the renovation program.
In 1984, he criticized the D.C. Lottery Board's hiring practices and said the $45,000 contract former city council chairman Sterling Tucker received from the City Public Works Department was unnecessary.
When the full council meets to review the budget next week, the budget for Troupe's office will be reviewed in detail.