Montgomery County is looking for someone to watch its latest watcher.
The county’s Office of the Inspector General is seeking applicants to establish a five- to seven-member OIG Advisory Group.
“The group will provide objective and independent commentary to the OIG,” Edward Blansitt III, the county’s inspector general, said in a news release. “The group will meet infrequently, yet have a major impact on our areas and scope of reviews in the future. We see this resident involvement as beneficial and critical to the continued good governance of Montgomery County.”
Last year, Blansitt, a former deputy inspector general at the U.S. Department of Commerce, became Montgomery County’s third inspector general since the County Council created the position in 1997.
The inspector general serves as a watchdog to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in county government operations. The office employs a team that formulates a work plan and periodic status reports on audits and investigations it conducts related to complaints from the public and by its own initiative.
An acrimonious history
It is a job that both of Blansitt’s predecessors left mid-term and amid acrimony with county officials.
Thomas J. Dagley, Blansitt’s immediate predecessor, was hired in 2005 and claimed an amicable relationship with the County Council and county executive for much of his first year on the job, The Gazette reported in 2006.
But that relationship began to unravel after several controversial investigations by Dagley’s office, including a review of a decision by the county school system, school board and council to replace a Potomac elementary school, which was reported in The Gazette. That investigation led the county school board to request an Attorney General’s opinion about the authority of the OIG.
Probes into the county’s police department also raised hackles. Dagley's office looked into the propriety of disability payments for officers working side jobs, an adult education program that allowed officers to purchase discounted personal firearms and the department’s failure to charge a former fire official with causing a crash after allegedly driving while intoxicated.
In late 2007, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) proposed that the OIG be moved from the county’s legislative to executive branch, The Washington Post reported.
By late 2010, the and Dagley was .
Blansitt is serving the balance of Dagley’s second term. (By law, an inspector general may not serve more than two full four-year terms.)
Appointed April 26, Blansitt makes $140,000 a year and oversees an office of six employees and a budget of more than $650,000, according to The Post. He came to the county with a reputation as a whistleblower who took on his boss in his former job at the Commerce Department, The Post reported.
So far he has reported on the school system’s finances and how the county handles its vehicle fleet.
How to apply
The OIG Advisory Group will assist the OIG in developing annual plans for audits and investigations, defining areas of expertise needed in the office and assessing the office’s budget.
The office is seeking a diverse group with members who have expertise in financial management and reporting; operations and controls; information technology; performance measurement; and public policy and administration.
The OIG Advisory Group will meet at least twice per year, likely in the OIG offices at 51 Monroe Street in Rockville. Group members will serve one-year terms. Terms will not extend beyond Blansitt's tenure.
Group members will not be compensated or receive reimbursement of expenses and will not be required to file county financial disclosure statements. The OIG will provide office support to the group.
Applicants should email an expression of interest and an attachment, no longer than three pages in total, providing qualifications and professional history to: IG@montgomerycountymd.gov.
The application deadline is March 15.