Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner today announced that she will subpoena the County Administration and Police Department after repeated resistance to an audit of the Department’s operations and application of resources. The subpoena will call on County Manager William McKain, Chief of Staff Jennifer Liptak and Police Superintendent Charles Moffat to report to the Controller’s Office on February 23 at 10 a.m.
“As Controller, it is my duty to monitor expenditures of County resources to ensure that they are being allocated appropriately and efficiently,” Wagner said. “It is long established, in State law and practice, that the independently elected Controller chooses what is to be audited, to ensure proper checks and balances. This Administration’s position, that it should be able to pick and choose when and if the Controller audits, flies in the face of democracy. They are trying to say that what goes on in government is confidential.”
The Controller will discuss the audit’s objectives, scope and next steps when the three appear before her. Anyone who does not comply may face fines and penalties and are subject to arrest. The legal action is a result of the County Administration’s refusal to cooperate with the Controller’s audit of the Police Department.
The Controller has the authority, by State law, to issue subpoenas to those who obstruct an audit.
No County department has ever challenged the County Controller’s authority to audit it. The Police Department’s resistance is the fifth County-affiliated agency to attempt to refuse to open its books.
The County’s Police Department, which includes 220 officers and operates with a $29.4 million budget, is on the brink of a major personnel change as park police officers are slated to be replaced with park rangers. Additionally, many employee records in the Police Department remain paper-based. As such, the Controller intends to review internal processes and application of resources.