BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city leaders will form a workgroup to review the city’s policies regarding rules for travel by elected officials, Mayor Brandon Scott’s office said Thursday.
The 90-day workgroup is tasked with clarifying how trips by elected officials are approved as well as rules around time off for employees who are not on a full-time schedule and procedures around trips not involving taxpayer money. The group will include the city administrator, solicitor, human resources director and finance director.READ MORE: IG Report Finds ‘Slight Discrepancies’ In Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s Travel
“Establishing this work group is about proactively working toward clarity around travel and notification policy for all public officials once and for all,” Scott said in a news release. “Our administrative manual is not regularly updated and could benefit from a comprehensive assessment. I have asked this group to convene and present recommendations that remove any ambiguity in these processes for greater transparency and accountability moving forward.”
Earlier this month, a report by the city’s inspector general found Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby did not seek or get approval for a number of out-of-state trips. Many of her trips were paid for by sponsoring organizations and not city funds.
Despite the inspector general’s report saying approval for the trips was required, a subsequent review of city policies by the city’s law department found nothing in the city charter or code requiring Board of Estimates approval of public officials’ travel that is not paid for by the city. In a memo to Comptroller Bill Henry dated Wednesday, Solicitor James Shea wrote there are “a number of inconsistencies” in policies that mean “there is no clear answer” as to whether BOE approval is required for those trips.
Thursday evening, the inspector general’s office released a statement saying it “utilized the plain language found in the Administrative Manual, precedent set by other Elected Officials, and the interpretation of prior administrators to reach the conclusion in the report.”
In a statement, Henry said the entire administrative manual could use updating.
“As I suspected, the formal opinion from the Law Department is that the Administrative Manual is unclear, which has led to disparate guidance, compliance, and enforcement over the years. I look forward to the City Administrator’s review of the travel policies for elected officials and welcome any scrutiny on the process,” he said.
Mosby herself had requested an investigation following media reports about her travel she slammed as misleading.
Her travel was not mentioned in the news release outlining the group’s creation.