City Club of Chicago: Spotlight on Transparency
July 18, 2018
Spotlight on Transparency – City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, Chicago Board of Education Inspector General Nicholas Schuler, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard
Nicholas Schuler has served as Inspector General for the Chicago Board of Education since December of 2014.
As the Chicago Public Schools’ Deputy IG, Schuler was lead investigator on the case that uncovered evidence that then-CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had been steering contracts to a former employer in expectation of hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.
More recently, as IG, Schuler investigated Byrd-Bennett’s successor as CEO, Forrest Claypool, for covering up ethics violations by Claypool’s hand-picked general counsel. Claypool resigned in December of 2017 after an OIG report recommended his termination for altering billing records and repeatedly lying to the OIG during two interviews.
The CPS OIG’s staff of 19 people function as the independent watchdog of the nation’s third-largest school system, focusing mainly on waste, fraud and financial misconduct. In the wake of a Chicago Tribune series outlining CPS’s failure to protect students from sexual predators, Schuler recommended the OIG take over CPS sex crime investigations from the CPS law department. This would avoid the conflict of interest that now arises when the law department defends CPS from suits involving the sexual abuse cases it investigated.
Joseph Ferguson began his third term as Chicago’s Inspector General in November 2017.
Under Ferguson’s leadership, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has continued to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity in the administration of programs and operation of City government. Since 2009, the Office has grown by 52% with the creation of the Center for Information Technology and Analytics (CITA) and the Public Safety Section. CITA utilizes large data sets for statistical models, trends, predictions, and analyses to develop cases, conduct citywide program reviews and audits, and monitor citywide hiring practices. The Public Safety section initiates evaluations, reviews, and audits of the City’s police and police accountability functions with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of public safety, protecting civil liberties and civil rights, and increasing the public’s confidence in the justice system.
In addition to all his work, Ferguson is an adjunct instructor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law as well as the co-director of its National Security and Civil Rights Program. He earned a BA from Lake Forest College and a JD from Northwestern University School of Law.
Patrick Blanchard was appointed to serve as the first Independent Inspector General for Cook County, Illinois through a bipartisan committee of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County in October 2008 and reappointed to a second term in 2014.
Prior to his confirmation as Inspector General, Blanchard served as an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney from March 1993 to October 2008. He has also earned the designation of a Certified Inspector General from the National Association of Inspectors General.
Blanchard has been an Adjunct Professor on the faculty of the Illinois Institute of Technology in its Graduate Program in Public Administration where he taught Public Administration Law from 2006 to 2014. He is currently on the Board of Directors of both the National Association of Inspectors General and Illinois Chapter and past Illinois Chapter President.