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D.C. Council taking on city's CFO

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Photo - D.C. CFO Natwar Gandhi (Examiner file photo)
D.C. CFO Natwar Gandhi (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Liz Farmer

The D.C. Council is taking up an emergency measure on Tuesday that would mandate more transparency from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer after CFO Natwar Gandhi's management was called into question last week.

The bill, introduced by at-large Councilman David Catania, a frequent Gandhi critic, would require Gandhi to keep Mayor Vincent Gray and the council appraised on the progress of all audits and reports conducted by the CFO's internal affairs department and to post the final versions of these audits online.

If approved, the move would be a significant power play for the council as Gandhi's agency runs independently from the legislative and executive branches. However the council as a whole has grown increasingly critical of the longtime CFO this year.

Last week, Gandhi testified late into the night before a council committee after the chief auditor in his agency resigned. The auditor, head of the CFO's Office of Integrity and Oversight, said he grew frustrated with what he saw as a regular practice of Gandhi quarantining some of his audits and keeping them from being released within the agency and to council members.

One of those audits sat on Gandhi's desk for six months and pointed out problems in the Office of Tax and Revenue. That office has also recently come under fire after a series of Washington Post articles questioned the rate at which properties were reassessed at lower values this year.

"In light of recent press reports and what was learned at last Wednesday's hearing, it became clear that legislation requiring the public disclosure of OCFO audit reports would be necessary," Brendan Williams-Kief, a spokesman for Catania, said Monday. "The publication of these reports reinforces accountability and leads to greater transparency."

If passed, the legislation would take effect immediately and would require Gandhi to submit reports within 15 days of their completion as well as "a list of incomplete or on-going audits and reports that have been or are being conducted by its Office of Integrity and Oversight on a quarterly basis" and an annual audit plan.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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