Republican candidate Jim Nussle is promising a “new era of accountability” in state government if he’s elected governor in November. Nussle would establish an “Office of Inspector General” to investigate alleged wrong-doing in state government.
Nussle says he’s making the promise because of the recent scandal involving the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium. “The unfettered abuse of the CIETC funds that were there, of course, meant to serve Iowans most in need I think is the latest example of Iowa management that’s distracted or asleep at the wheel or doing something in a deceptive way,” Nussle says.
Nussle says current Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack — who is not seeking re-election — has failed as a manager not only in this situation, but Vilsack’s staff didn’t conduct a thorough enough review after a November prison break. Nussle says an “independent office” would provide accountability in state government. “Iowans…have a serious problem that needs to be addressed, they need to be able to go to someone to get their emails answered, to get their phone calls answered, to be able to have their concerns addressed,” Nussle says.
The legislative branch of state government currently has an ombudsman who investigates citizen complaints and an Oversight Committee which has the power to investigate — and is using it to probe the job training program scandal. While Nussle has been promising to scale-back the size of state government if he becomes the next governor, Nussle says creating a new office in the executive branch for independent investigations is essential, and could wind up saving taxpayer dollars by ferreting out fraud and abuse. “An Inspector General will be there to enforce accountability,” Nussle says. “It will hold every governmental organization accountable as well as enforce measurable results and make sure Iowa taxdollars are used wisely.”
Nussle says if an Inspector General were on the job today, they would be investigating how the state handled the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay project and how the state responded to child welfare complaints from the father Evelyn Miller, a slain northern Iowa girl. “We have a number of instances within state government here where investigations are necessary to getting to the bottom, to getting the questions that need to be answered for Iowans,” Nussle says.
Nussle proposes that the head of the Office of Inspector General be appointed by the governor and confirmed by at least 34 members of the Iowa Senate.