Category Archives: Accountability in PGCPS

Audits should lead to sound decisions and not confusion.


Over the last two weeks there has been a vigorous debate about the damming report of the Auditor General in Maryland on the financial management of the Prince George´s County public Schools (Pgcps). If you ask the average Prince Georges County résident, there is no doubt that senior level officials at Sasscer (school system Hq)  have been “eating” the revenue allocated to the County district school system instead of delivering services. Another report  issued by CEO’s Transition Team does not help much with the issues we advocated for. It appears to have been a cover up mission to some extend. However, that is another post for another day. We will give you our opinion as we know it.

As people who remembers Prince Georgés County tortuous journey to devolution after the passage of HB 1107 and appreciates that the only option available for a stable Prince George’s County is a devolved system of government, we welcome the criticism leveled against the vanguards of Prince George´s County’s devolution. Disappointment by in the financial conduct of the County government is legitimate and an indication that citizens expect higher standards of accountability for County government. This has not been traditional attitude to local government led by Mr. Rushern Baker. Year in year out, the Auditor Generals’ report chronicled massive theft of public funds usually eliciting little more than a yawn from the public. If well handled, the current concerns can only improve citizen faith in government.

Part of handling the issue well is ensuring that the debate is not misinformed. One of the concerns we have had over time is the way audit reports tend to mix issues of irregular, unprocedural and unexplained expenditure, with those that relate to outright fraud. CEO’s Transition Team does not highlight problems created by the unions representing employees in Prince George’s County Public Schools but covered up the issues like a fox in a hen house.

In this year’s Maryland Auditor General’s reports, only a professional accountant can distinguish between audit queries relating purely to missing documentation for legitimate expenditure and where it is obvious that the documentation is missing because money was stolen. Complex audit-speak in the reports leaves one confused between merely unprocedural and unlawful expenditure. There is no doubt that fidelity to rules is essential in expenditure by public institutions, but should these two situations not be differentiated? To see the negative impact of non-differentiation, one only needs to look at last  audit report of the activities of the County school District system.

As reported by the media, the Auditor’s report disclosed that $ 1 million of public funds was “lost”. To Prince George’s County’s unsophisticated public, duly informed by a fairly simplistic media, $ 1 million of public money was stolen in one year but we also know that, the number is much higher if the paper work had not been compromised. The problem with this report is twofold. On the one hand it is unbelievable. If $ 1 million, was lost through in overpayment and other questionable activity at Sasscer, What about the mismanagement within the schools after principals were given millions to manage themselves? In the average mind, it creates integrity issues on the entire report.

Secondly, for those who believe it, the enormity of the “theft” is too overwhelming. Not only does this unjustly delegitimize school system and the local government, it also leaves citizens helpless and disillusioned feeling that the accountability war is lost, so they should not bother. If however the audit had clearly distinguished between what was unprocedurally but legitimately expended from what is actually stolen, it would create more incentive to invest in accountability mechanisms. Pointing fingers only in a few areas when we know the procurement process is not very transparent, leaves a lot of questions than answers.

For the Prince George’s County report just released, this issue is even more critical in view of the public interest in the accountability of the current local government led by Mr. Rushern Baker. For example it is important to point out that these report does not address Federal funding involving Title I schools and how the money was spent in the schools. Prince George’s County government and school system has had no systems in place and yet were still expected to deliver services from day one. Most of the issues raised by the audit reports are therefore more about procedural; breaches as opposed to fraud. We know there has been fraud because of the way money has been siphoned off recently.  Look at the way Mr. Roger Thomas , Matt and others have acted in the past.

One only needs to read the much publicized report of the audit general in Maryland to see that the bulk of issues raised relate to documentation. When these issues are bunched together with instances of fraud, it makes it difficult to smoke out the real fraudsters. It also fails to appreciate that these issues call for different solutions. Issues of non-documentation and procedure may have to do with capacity and at times inability of existing law, in this case procurement law, to deal with emerging realities.

We do not say this to legitimize unprocedural conduct. We recognize this can quickly metamorphose to fraud of which some of members have been a witness to it through the system. We raise these issues to ask the Maryland Auditor General’s team to present future audit reports in a manner that does not confuse an already skeptical public but helps it make informed decisions on improving accountability in Prince George’s County and elsewhere.


pgcps_logoWe need more transparency and  accountability in government so that people know how their money is being spent.  That means putting budgets online, putting legislation online. ~ Carly  FiorinaimageDemocracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is  enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no  sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption,  subjugation and indignation. ~ Atifete  Jahjaga



Former PGCPS Board Member Exposed The Truth About Our School Board…

…However, despite efforts to expose the issues of worry, concern continues to persist. Only this time, there is cover up than real solutions.

‌‌Corruption in the public sector  hampers the efficiency of public services, undermines confidence in public institutions and increases the cost of public transactions. Integrity is essential for building strong institutions resistant to corruption.  We deserve better! Let us continue to advocate for what is right and save PGCPS.

One way in which we can help the school system and other institutions  is ensuring that the integrity of government decision-making is not compromised by public officials. private interests is a growing public concern and is affecting communities not only in PGCPS District but around the world. New forms of partnership between government and the private and non-profit sectors present new challenges for policy-makers and public managers.

Effectively managing conflict of interest requires a balance. A too-strict approach to controlling private interests may conflict with other rights or be unworkable or deter experienced and competent potential candidates from entering public office or public service.

However, to be successful,  a modern approach to conflict-of-interest policy seeks to strike a balance by: identifying risks; prohibiting unacceptable forms of private interest; raising awareness of the circumstances in which conflicts can arise; and ensuring effective procedures to resolve conflict-of-interest situations. As we move forward into the future in the next several months, we will be highlighting some of the areas which we feel deserves attention. We deserve better solutions and proper accountability mechanism rather than band aid. Those who speak the truth and protect us all, must be rewarded irrespective of their background.



1 Samuel 18:30

‘Every time the commanders of the Philistines attacked, David was more successful against them than all the rest of Saul’s officers.’

– David was a man who enjoyed the blessing of God on his life.
– As a result he saw more success than those around him.
– Trust God for His blessing on your life – ask Him to do it.
– Then expect to walk in that favour regardless of the circumstances.

PRAY: Lord, You know exactly what I am facing and going through. I take a moment right now to ask for Your hand of blessing on my life. Amen.

Have a great Thursday.

Fire in the Belly…

…Kudos to our President.


United States President Baraka Obama.

In a graduation speech published on June 8, President Obama offered this assessment of innovative change politics.

He said that what frustrates him most is the fact that leaders lack the “fire in the belly” needed to make a difference in people’s lives. There is no sense of urgency among those in authority in a country with so many pressing problems.

President Obama is certainly a driven man. He set up Obama for America (OFA) at a time when no other President in the history of United States has ever done such a thing to help people. Under his leadership a lot is being accomplished such as health care reforms. His celebrating victory has since motored on efforts to attract investors to the United States which has many advantages.

A deeper problem with our politics is that leaders don’t always see the need to behave like president Obama because voters don’t always reward such behavior.

The formula for success, as is well known, is simple. One needs to accumulate a huge sum of money once they get into office and align with the right ethnic barons in their home state or county.

After that, it is a short road to victory. You just need several sets of colorful shirts, dance a lot in rallies, pay your campaign mobilisers and you will soon be back in office.

We lament about these leaders a lot but we blame everyone except ourselves. The fact is that voters are the weakest link in this system.

We see politics as little more than a spectator sport. An interesting study would be for someone to research on why Prince George’s County citizens, far more than any other people in the region, spend so much time on social media breathlessly discussing trivial political matters without analyzing their local leaders especially here in our Prince George’s county .

In many other countries, politicians don’t sleep because they know citizens are eternally vigilant about key issues which affect their lives. It was interesting to witness Prince George’s county citizens calling their county a “slum” sometimes last year. What are they going to do to make changes in a county with so much potential?

Governments in India can and have been brought down by the price of onions, a key staple in many Indian dishes.

Last year, amid an onions shortage, India’s Farm Minister Sharad Pawar floated tenders to import the commodity to increase supplies and bring down surging prices.

When it emerged that imports would take several weeks to arrive by sea, he said they should be brought by air.

Price of onions

He has obviously learnt from the fall of the Delhi state government in 1998 and the victory of the Congress Party in the 1980s, all of which came in an environment where voters were angry over high onion prices.

In the Arab world, the price of bread has always been a flashpoint. In 1977 in Egypt, there were bread riots over rising prices and the police and army urged the government to review their policies because they could not contain the crisis.

Today, many dictators are out of their jobs because a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest the economic situation in his home country.

In China, the Communist Party leadership began a meeting last year to chart a new course for the country now that growing economic success means that millions of well exposed youths no longer want to do the same factory jobs that their parents toiled in to produce the transformation that country has enjoyed over the last 30 years.

Prince George’s County politicians never need to worry about such things. From the grassroots to the top (Mr. Rushern Baker), they know that the electorate does not care too much whether politicians apply themselves to tackle problems like high youth unemployment, impossible interest rates, high foreclosure rates, school system corruption or crime.

Which is why it is so refreshing to see vibrant President Obama showing that with a little imagination, transformative change can be achieved in the country just as it has in many places around the world over the last few decades.

We don’t know enough about the particulars of the President Obama’s plans to know whether they will work or fail in the future. But at least he has the right attitude.

From Malaysia to Singapore to Turkey, societies have been transformed by leaders with “fire in the belly”. Voters must learn to reward such behavior and identify similar people to take office from the bottom up.

We truly hope you will consider what we have written and keep an open mind when it comes to trying to solve the problems in our county and especially in connection with the failing schools in Prince George’s County and elsewhere.  We can make failing schools better but we can’t keep doing the same things over and over by not getting the right leadership. We cannot keep relying on teachers and schools to solve all the problems. What works in the suburbs or parochial schools does not necessarily work in the inner city. We need to address the other two elements in order to make real change.  We can do it if we change the focus and reward leaders with fire in the belly.

Thank you for your time,

~Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County~