Way to go Joe! The value of an independent inspector general free of political pressure is once again writ large as Chicago I.G. Joe Ferguson unearths reporting inaccuracies in the city’s employee furlough program—those unpaid days off that city workers from Mayor Daley on down are forced to swallow to save money—and how the inaccuracies create serious budget and pension problems for Chicago taxpayers.

(Feb. 8, 2011) Inspector General Releases Report on City Furlough Program’s Impact on Pensions

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) released a report today stating that the City publicly overstated savings realized from its furlough program by $11.05 million. Additionally, the IGO report found that the furlough program will result in increasing the funding shortfall of City employees’ pension funds by approximately $24.55 million dollars.

“As the City tackles its daunting structural deficit, it is important the full impact of those efforts are accurately calculated and fully disclosed to the public,” said Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

Since mid-2009, the City has used furloughs (mandatory unpaid time off) as a way to cut costs, resulting in a reported savings of approximately $134 million.

However, the IGO found that the City actually saved $11.05 million less than has been reported….


This is the kind of information the City Council’s well-staffed Finance and Budget committees should be providing, but they don’t. So the BGA, and Chicago taxpayers, are grateful to Ferguson’s office, which—like the BGA—is expanding the scope of its mandate to include policy analysis and recommendations, in addition to investigations of waste, fraud and misconduct. Better government is a right and a responsibility, and if we all do our work smartly, aggressively and creatively—with the support of like-minded groups and citizens—it can become a reality.