Loose Lips

D.C. Government’s Dumbest Feud Is Over

At last, bureaucratic peace in our time. Judging by yesterday's meeting of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, the spat between BEGA and the Office of the Inspector General is over.

The dispute stems from whether the inspector general has to share documents from its investigations with BEGA. BEGA argued that it needs them in order to start proceedings against the city employees that OIG catches breaking the law; inspector general Charles Willoughby says that sharing the documents would compromise his agency's independence. (This was apparently a BEGA-specific issue—OIG has no problem sharing information with the U.S. Attorney's Office, for example.) The situation had gotten so dire that BEGA authorized staffers to subpoena OIG if they didn't hand over the documents.

That's all over now. At yesterday's BEGA meeting, government ethics director Darrin Sobin said Willoughby had agreed to grant BEGA the same document access as the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Not that Willoughby, who didn't respond to LL's request for comment, had much choice. Before the D.C. Council went on its summer recess, government operations committee chairman  Kenyan McDuffie introduced new legislation that would require any city agency to give BEGA records without a subpoena.

The immediate effect of what BEGA board member Deborah Lathen calls "the new détente" between the agencies won't be too exciting. It frees up BEGA to use OIG's information to pursue the surprisingly frequent targets of D.C. government watchdogs: handicap parking scofflaws. They'll be able to continue two cases against D.C. government employees who are fighting the results of an OIG investigation that concluded they broke handicap parking rules.

Image from the OIG website

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