Five months after appointment as state inspector general, Glenn A. Cunha is moving to strengthen his office’s power to compel witnesses to provide sworn testimony in investigations of waste, fraud, and abuse in state and local government agencies.
Cunha, a longtime prosecutor, last month without fanfare filed a bill with the Legislature that, if passed and signed into law, would significantly expand the powers of his office by giving it the unfettered right to question anyone under oath.
Currently, his office must receive approval from six of eight members of an oversight panel, made up of the attorney general and others, before issuing a subpoena to anyone.
It would mark the first major change in almost 30 years in a set of laws passed as the result of a corruption scandal in the 1970s that led to the convictions of three state senators. In addition to the inspector general’s office, the Legislature at that time created the state Ethics Commission, which investigates public employees for violations of the state’s conflict of interest laws.
Cunha’s bill was discussed publicly for the first time Thursday at a meeting of an obscure panel with limited oversight authority over the inspector general’s office. Until told of the bill by the Globe on Friday, neither Governor Deval Patrick nor House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo was aware of it. Both said they planned to review the matter.
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