Assessing a New Orleans Inspector

It took years for New Orleans to appoint its first Inspector General, a position charged with rooting out fraud and waste in city government.

But when it came time for the board that oversees this office to weigh in on its chief, Ed Quatrevaux, members quickly validated his performance.

The city’s Ethics Review Board voted unanimously to reappoint Quatrevaux to another four-year term. Board chairman Michael Cowan called the Inspector General’s track record “excellent,” and representatives of civic reform groups and business groups praised his work as well. Community support hasn’t been universal, however. Specifically, some residents told the board they believe Quatrevaux has been too soft on the New Orleans Police Department.

While the Inspector General himself didn’t attend the meeting on his reappointment, his office had earlier compiled an annual report detailing the impact of its activities. The office claims some $10.74 million in savings for the city during 2012, mostly from halting fraudulent schemes. The office’s investigations, often conducted in conjunction with federal agencies, produced 12 convictions last year in federal or state court, while other investigations led to the dismissal or suspension of 17 city employees.

“Prosecutions take a long time to develop, and the cases started two years ago are now entering the public domain,” Quatrevaux notes in the report. “New Orleans is becoming a hard target for those who would steal from it.”

If so, that has been a long time coming. New Orleans voters first approved the creation of an Inspector General’s office in 1995. But it was not enacted until 2006, when a new slate of City Council members elected after Hurricane Katrina revived the long-idled idea as part of the overall push for reform during the recovery.

Quatrevaux is a Louisiana native who has spent most of his career as an inspector general for federal agencies. He was named to the post in 2009 after the city’s first inspector general, Robert Cerasoli, resigned two years into his appointment, citing health reasons.

Reports from the Inspector General are available to the public online at nolaoig.org.

 

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