"We are on a march through city government."
New Orleans Inspector General
Ed Quatrevaux has served as New Orleans Inspector General since October 2009.
He was born and raised in New Orleans and graduated from Alcee Fortier High School. He earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of New Orleans in 1969 and an MBA from Tulane University in 1975.
Quatrevaux served as an Army officer from 1967-1987, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was twice a company commander in Vietnam, and his other assignments included Chief of Seaport Operations in Europe, and Logistics Force Structure Analyst on the Army General Staff. He led a landmark study that redesigned the Army’s transportation units, doubling the productivity of those units and reducing manpower requirements by 60,000. His final Army assignment was as Inspector General of the Defense Department’s joint service transportation agency. There he evaluated domestic and international shipping, and made recommendations with the potential for $10 billion in annual savings.
From 1991 through 2000, he was Inspector General of the Legal Services Corporation, a federal entity which funds civil legal assistance for low-income Americans. He led an evaluation of the use of information technology in the delivery of legal services, which greatly increased the number of people served with little additional cost.
Mr. Quatrevaux then founded a company that purchased an accredited college and converted it to an online education format. He sold his interest in 2004 and retired to Mandeville. He returned to New Orleans to lead the Office of Inspector General.
Q & A with Ed Quatrevaux
What is the number one thing you want citizens to know about the OIG?I want them to know that there’s an office looking out for them, looking out for the city, and helping the city government avoid a lot of the problems that we‘ve had in the past. That’s the most important thing, there’s someone else watching and what we see we report. We find facts and we report them to the public.
You scrutinize all of city government, but who keeps tabs on the OIG?
We’re the most scrutinized department in city government. Our ordinance requires us to get an independent peer review every three years arranged through the Association of Inspectors General. They send a team down. It’s a healthy check.
We also have something called a Quality Assurance Review Committee: three persons appointed by the Mayor, the City Council, and the Ethics Review Board, and they review all of our reports every year, and they write a report on the quality of our reports. They make suggestions where they think we could have done something better, and it’s been informative and enlightening and useful to me.
The OIG presents its reports to the Ethics Review Board - which is comprised of citizens nominated by University presidents. The Mayor makes the final appointments from among three names provided by each University president. They do not have the authority, no one has the authority, to tell us, to speak to us about the initiation, conduct, or reporting of any of our work. That’s sacred ground and no one can go there because that could affect independence. But the Ethics Review Board is there to respond presumably to any complaints against us, should there be any.
Is there a financial formula that measures the success of the OIG?
Offices of Inspectors General do work that often produces financial savings. They do some work that doesn’t do that in the public safety arena. The things we have found in the first five years, about $50 million worth, are important to the city and have produced real financial savings that’s helped the city survive what is a financial crisis.
One very concrete example is Sewerage and Water Board collection of sanitation fees in 2011 when $8.5 million was not collected. Before our report was released in 2013, the administration had attempted to get the authority to shut off water to people who don’t pay the sanitation fee but the City Council did not vote on the measure. After our report, the measure went before the Council again and the council passed it unanimously. So that’s effect. We went from dead stop, no way, to OK, we did it. Now it’s up to the administration to make intelligent use of that authority they gained through that legislation.
How does your office decide which agencies and departments it will examine?
We have in the past used an audit tool called a risk assessment and it pretty much told us what we would have arrived at without using it: that the most troubled agencies were the Sewerage and Water Board and the NOPD. As we began our work and got to go place to place there are precious little places we went where there was no fraud or waste.
We are on a march through city government and we are going to the biggest places first. We went to the airport. We’re still there helping with the construction project, but that’s pretty much a turnaround agency. We’re very proud of that and we’re very proud of the airport’s management and the Aviation Board for the turnaround out there.
We’re doing a lot of work at the NOPD. That’s not going to produce a lot of monetary savings, but it’s an important public safety problem. We need the best police force we can have because we have a terrible crime problem. That means they have to be efficient and effective; they have to obey the law; they have to be right-sized; they have to be fit. A lot of things go into it. So we are looking at different aspects of the NOPD to try to help them get to a better place. We’re going to continue on the NOPD until we have accurate crime data. We’ll continue to look at things like the retention of patrol officers.
We have a grant from Baptist Community Ministries for a series of funding inspections of each of the entities in the justice system: that’s courts, coroner, prosecutors, you name it. We want to determine what’s the total funding for these organizations and what are the sources because this information had apparently been very difficult to get in the past. It will be useful to everyone in the system to know, finally, how well funded each of the elements are.