Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan. Credit: Baltimore County/Isaac Smay

Baltimore County’s office of inspector general, which roots out fraud, waste and abuse in county government, is about to double in size. At the same time, it is being scrutinized by a commission tasked to recommend changes to how the office operates. What’s at stake is whether the county’s watchdog will be leashed.

Inspector General Kelly Madigan’s office is located down several stairwells then through a few locked doors traversing an underground tunnel that runs from the historic courthouse in Towson. Madigan pointed down one corridor during a recent tour.

“This way would take you all the way to circuit court,” she said.

Madigan said she wanted an office that was private, centrally located, and hard to find. Check, check and check.

“It’s a small space,” she said. “We have room to grow.”

Madigan is going to need it because she is hiring three new people, including two investigators, which will increase the size of her office to six.

“I would love to have all three of them in place by September 1, maybe that is wishful thinking,” she said.

As the capacity of the inspector general’s office grows, county officials could find themselves under even greater scrutiny. They have already at times bristled over Madigan’s investigations. The office fielded 155 complaints, and opened 15 investigations, the majority of which were published publicly. It addressed nearly 200 ethics inquiries, processed more than 300 lobbying compliance records and 500 financial disclosure statements in the past year.

In recent months her office discovered the county inadvertently missed giving 838 of its employees a promised 2% raise. In response, County Administrative Officer Stacy Rodgers questioned whether Madigan had the authority to look into what was an operational snafu. Madigan countered that part of her job is to provide accountability and oversight of county government.

The end result is that the employees are going to get their raise.

“I think absent the tone of the response from the administration, that that is a success for Baltimore County government,” Madigan said. “That is a success for the office of the inspector general.”

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.