A July 24 Gazette.net article reports that Prince George’s County is considering legislation that would create new Office of Ethics and Accountability to investigate potential ethics violations by county officials, employees and contractors. The legislation was introduced by County Executive Rushern Baker after receiving recommendations from the County’s Accountability, Compliance and Integrity Advisory Board. Although the Board recommended creating an inspector general position, the article indicates the County Executive decided to create a separate and more narrowly focused ethics office because many of the traditional duties of an inspector general were already adequately handled by existing County processes.
The Office of Ethics and Accountability would act as an independent government agency to investigate claims of illegal or unethical conduct by county government employees, officials and contractors. The legislation also contains a whistleblower protection provision, meaning employees who register complaints will remain anonymous and cannot be fired as retribution for their actions.
The office is currently budgeted for an executive director, a support staff, two investigators, along with an extra special prosecutor in the county State’ Attorney’s Office.