Here’s a brief excerpt from Joe Lhota’s press conference in which he describes the provision of the proposed NYPD Inspector General bill that he finds “extremely distressing.” He references a section of the proposed bill which provides that the inspector general would have “all powers necessary to conduct independent reviews of the [NYPD’s] policies”. In responding to the question of why he objects to the proposed NYPD IG, but didn’t object to the MTA’s IG when he ran that agency, he goes on to say that the MTA Inspector General “does not have the ability to question the policies directly by the MTA. It is an audit function.”
I looked at the statute authorizing the MTA Inspector General – here’s what I found in Section 1279(4)(b) and (c) of the Public Authorities Law:
“§ 1279 (4). The inspector general … shall have the following functions, powers and duties:
(b) to initiate such reviews as he may deem appropriate of the operations of the authority and its subsidiaries … in order to identify areas in which performance might be improved and available funds used more effectively;
(c) to recommend remedial actions to be taken by the authority and its subsidiaries … to overcome or correct operating or maintenance deficiencies and inefficiencies that he determines to exist;” (underscore added.)
Lhota is correct that the MTA Inspector General does not have the authority to examine the MTA’s “policies”. He seems to understate some of the MTA IG’s statutory authority, however. The statutory sections above appear to give the MTA IG authority for rather broad reviews at the IG’s own initiative and to “recommend remedial actions … to … correct operating deficiencies.” That seems like a broad mandate.
Would a similarly drafted provision in the NYPD IG bill be acceptable to Joe Lhota? We’ll try to get an answer. Also, I’m unclear on whether the MTA IG has full authority to examine the operations of the MTA police. We’ll try to get that answer as well.