The Los Angeles Community College District has hired an outside firm to set up an Office of Inspector General and a whistle-blower program to review "financial integrity and legal compliance" of the district's $6 billion construction program and to receive any information about "potentially illegal activity, fraud, waste or corruption,” district officials announced this week.
The district hired Altadena-based Policy Masters Inc., and CEO Christine E. Marez will oversee the efforts.
"By employing an inspector general who reports directly to us, the board will be improving our oversight of the district’s bond program and hopefully will be increasing efficiencies over the remaining years of the construction projects," said Georgia L. Mercer, president of the board of trustees, in a prepared statement.
The nine-college district – the largest in the state – passed a series of bond measures in 2001, 2003 and 2008 totaling $5.7 billion to refurbish and replace aging buildings with more energy-efficient structures. As of August, the district had completed 358 projects and spent $2.8 billion, according to the latest project report.
In the last several years, however, the district's management of the bond program has come into question. A consultant told district officials in 2005 that excessive reviews of design plans had led to delays and millions of wasted taxpayer dollars, according to a report in the Los Angeles Daily News.