Ethics Task Force Recommends Creating the “Office of Inspector General” 

Presentation by the City of Dallas after releasing ethics report. | Image from the City of Dallas

A new report released by the Dallas Ethics Reform Task Force on Monday, Sept. 27, has recommended more oversight and stricter ethics rules for the city.  

Mayor Johnson appointed an Ethics Reform Czar, who formed an independent task force of Dallas citizens from the private, public, and non-profit sectors. The task force was created in 2019 and is made up of six people. The task force is led by Tim Powers, an attorney who is also chair of the city’s Ethics Advisory Commission.  

According to the report released by the Taskforce, the Ethics Reform seeks to “enhance the ethical standards of the City Official and City employees in order to become the gold standard of an ethical culture to which other cities aspire.”  

According to the task force report, the city needs a department solely dedicated to investigating city misconduct complaints to ensure those complaints are appropriately handled.  

The task force recommends creating an Office of Inspector General led by an appointed licensed attorney who would find and issue rulings on cases of alleged fraud, waste abuse, campaign finance violation, and other ethics misconduct.   

The city currently runs misconduct complaints through different channels and is not independently investigated, but the creation of the Office of Inspector General will see this process changed. The report recommends that the office become the sole receiver of ethics complaints from any medium and investigate those complaints independently.  

The task force advised that the office should be based in the city attorney’s office and have subpoena power. The task force added that the office must have the ability to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by keeping reviews confidential.  

The task force also suggests the head of the Office of Inspector General, which it recommends must be titled “Inspector General,” should be appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Dallas City Council.  

The task force also advised the city to make its ethics code more straightforward to understand. The task force recommends updating and increasing training and testing of city employees and elected officials on the rules.  

Other recommendations made by the task force include testing council members and board and commission members on their understanding of the city’s ethics code, making eighteen the minimum age for campaign donors to ensure donations are not put in the names of children and increasing the frequency of campaign financing needs to be reported.

The task force also recommends that the city create a standard that would help determine if a city official or employee has conflicts of interest. 

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