Legislative Spotlight:DC's Board of Ethics and Government Accountability violation collection reform
Today, the DC Council is holding a public hearing on, B24-0706, "Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Delinquent Debt Recovery Amendment Act of 2022"
The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (“BEGA”) is charged with investigating alleged ethics laws violations by District government employees and public officials. They also provide binding ethics advice and conduct mandatory training on the DC Government’s Code of Conduct. With the BEGA is the Office of Open Government, which is an independent office, which enforces the "Open Meetings Act," monitors the District’s Freedom of Information (FOIA) compliance, and aids agencies with implementing open government practices.
Should B24-0706, be enacted the BEGA would be permitted to retain funds resulting from ethics and open meetings violations under its jurisdiction. In addition, it will allow the Central Collection Unit (“CCU”) to collect delinquent debt on BEGA’s behalf and deposit those funds into the Ethics Fund or the Open Government Fund, instead of the City's General Fund. This debt will supplement the agency's operating budget by providing "special purposes revenue" which can be used to support its operations and personnel.
As background for the introduction of the legislation, Councilmember Nadeau states:
BEGA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (“OCFO”) to allow the CCU within the OCFO to collect delinquent debt stemming from ethics violations on behalfof BEGA and to deposit those collections in the Ethics Fund. The CCU recently informed BEGA that pursuant to the Delinquent Debt Recovery Act of 2012, D.C. Law 19-168; D.C. Official Code § 1-350.01 et seq.District agencies are required by law to forward any uncollected debt that is over 90 days to the CCU and that debts collected by the CCU on behalf of BEGA are to be deposited into the District’s General Fund.
To allow BEGA to retain the funds resulting from ethics and open meetings violations under its jurisdiction, this legislation amends the “Delinquent Debt Recovery Act of 2012” and the “Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011.” It does this by allowing BEGA, at its discretion, to transfer and refer delinquent debts associated with settlements and judgements for ethics and open meetings violations to the CCU for collection and for the funds collected to be deposited into the Ethics Fund and Open Government Fund instead of the General Fund. The Delinquent Debt Recovery Act requires all District agencies to transfer and refer delinquent debts to the Central Collection Unit within 60 days after a financial obligation becomes a delinquent debt.
The public hearing on the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Delinquent Debt Recovery Amendment Act of 2022 can be viewed at 3:00 pm at: https://www.brianneknadeau.com/committee