THERE WAS no fanfare -- nor even all that much enthusiasm -- in the upper chambers of city hall, but the announcement was about the filling of what happens to be one of the most important offices in the District of Columbia government. After much high-level hand-wringing, back-stabbing and low-whispering about removing the one man with independent powers to investigate anything or anybody in the local government, incumbent D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe has been nominated for a second six-year term. He has earned it. There has been no evidence that Mr. Troupe should not keep on doing what he has been doing -- which is to raise investigative hell when he comes across accounts that don't add up or services that aren't being performed. On the contrary, a special three-member panel selected by D.C. Council Chairman David Clarke found that operations of the office had "matured and strengthened" under Mr. Troupe -- and the panel urged the council to make better use of the auditor's findings.
If Mr. Troupe has on occasion raised the discomfort level in certain corners of city hall, so be it. That's the particular -- and most significant -- nature of this job. When Congress enacted the home rule charter, the office of D.C. auditor was established specifically to audit accounts and operations, to "have access to all books, accounts, records, reports, findings and all other papers, things, or property belonging to or in use by any department, agency, or other instrumentality of the District government. . . ." Appointed by the council chairman subject to council approval, the auditor serves six-year terms rather than four-year terms, as do council members and the mayor.
Mr. Troupe, a Republican in this Democrat-dominated local government, doesn't claim to have uncovered all that is financially wrong in city hall, but in the past he has not hesitated to go after it. That's an important monitoring function that should always be kept clear of party politics, personal bureaucratic differences within the government -- and efforts by elected officials to downgrade the job or to intimidate the jobholder.