Inspector General Issues Statement Respecting City Council Finance Committee Denial of Access to City Duty Disability Program Records

On May 18, 2012, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) made a formal written request to the City Council Committee on Finance for access to databases related to the City’s self-managed and self-insured workers’ compensation program for reimbursing employees injured on the job—more commonly known as Duty Disability.  The written request followed a series of oral discussions through which the OIG sought access to the Duty Disability databases.

On July 23, 2012, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance again denied that request.

As the correspondence (available on links to the right) shows, the OIG believes that the Committee on Finance has no basis to withhold access to the program data.  The OIG ordinance confers a number of “powers and duties,” including:

To promote economy, efficiency, effectiveness and integrity in the administration of programs and operations of the city government by reviewing programs, identifying any inefficiencies, waste and potential for misconduct therein, and recommending to the mayor and the city council policies and methods for the elimination of inefficiencies and waste, and the prevention of misconduct. (Municipal Code of Chicago § 2-56-030(c))

The OIG fulfills this portion of its mission and duties through various forms of reviews, including audits of City programs and operations.  In this case, the OIG sought to review a major City program not previously reviewed by the OIG.  To do so effectively, and in accord with prevailing practices and standards governing the fields of audit and program review, the OIG requires full read-in access to the program data.

The OIG is releasing this information because the public, whose interest the OIG was created to protect and whose tax payments fund both the OIG and Duty Disability, should be informed when the OIG is blocked from accessing records needed to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of a City program.  Blocking OIG access is especially egregious in this case, as recent press reports have detailed anecdotal evidence of a City program very much in need of outside review, hopefully leading to improvements and savings to taxpayers.  The Administration’s press staff have described the cases detailed in these media reports as possibly constituting “fraud and abuse” in the City’s Duty Disability program, while the Mayor was himself reported as publicly referring to certain beneficiaries of the program as “bad actors.”  The best way to determine whether there is waste, fraud, or abuse in this City-funded program administered by the City for the benefit of City workers, based on their status as City employees, all under the auspices of City and State law, is to subject the program to a thorough OIG review.

The Duty Disability program is a major City program, with a significant financial impact on the City’s budget.  Duty Disability costs for 2011 are estimated to be $115 million, while $97.5 million was appropriated for 2012.

 FY 2011 & FY 2012 Published Duty Disability Budget Appropriations[1]


FY 2011

FY 2012







All Others



Total Appropriation



Since there are no publicly available comprehensive, independent reviews of the economy, effectiveness, and efficiency of the City’s Duty Disability Program, the OIG sought access to all databases maintained and operated for the management of the program.  This data is held and maintained by City Council’s Committee on Finance.  It remains inaccessible.

The OIG is currently evaluating all options for obtaining access to these records critical to the performance of one of the OIG’s core duties.