Monday, July 21, 2014

Former New Orleans Mayor Gets 10 Years in Prison for Contracting Bribery Scandal

Ray Nagin
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, first elected as a reformer vowing to clean up the corruption of city politics, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in a bribery scandal.  Even after the July 9, 2014 sentencing, Nagin maintained his innocence.

More than $200,000 in bribes: Nagin was accused of accepting more than $200,000 in bribes in exchange for providing favorable treatment for companies who received more than $5 million in city contracts.  The bribes included cash, checks, wire transfers, a vacation in Hawaii, first-class airfare to Jamaica, private jet travel and a limousine for New York City, and cellular phone service. 

Culture of corruption:  New Orleans and Louisiana have a well-known and sordid history of political corruption that has landed many former public officials and employees in prison.

Turning the tide:  How can public agencies begin to change the culture and ensure honest government? It obviously starts from the top with elected officials. Here are some quick tips:
  1. Develop and adopt a rigorous ethics policy
  2. Require regular ethics training for elected officials and employees
  3. Require annual public disclosure statements for elected officials and key employees of potential conflicts of interest
  4. Have clear and transparent contracting policies and procedures
  5. Ensure adequate checks and balances on power, especially related to contracting
  6. Adopt a whistleblower policy to protect public employees when they disclose wrong doing
  7. Establish separation of duties so that one employee cannot perform duties in potential conflict with other duties
  8. Have a rigorous internal audit function

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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