Office of Government Accountability administrator resigns

Shelby Brown testifying at the legislature.

CTMIRROR.ORG

Shelby Brown testifying at the legislature a year ago.

Shelby Brown submitted her resignation Thursday as executive administrator of the Office of Government Accountability, ending a contentious run in an office that state watchdog agencies consider an unnecessary affront to their autonomy.

Her departure for the private sector was a personal decision and does not signify a reappraisal of the office by the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, which is under pressure to eliminate positions and cut costs, said a spokesman, Devon Puglia.

An appointee of Malloy, Brown asked legislators a year ago to help her exercise greater administrative control over the state’s watchdog agencies, including one investigating the governor’s campaign finances, the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Brown, who is leaving state service on April 1, clashed with the elections commission, the Office of State Ethics and the Freedom of Information Commission – all intended to be autonomous under state law – over her authority in personnel and other matters.

Her appearance before the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee, seeking greater authority, pitted her against the Governmental Accountability Commission, the panel that recommended her hiring to Malloy and is responsible for evaluating her performance.

In her resignation letter, Brown made no mention of the controversy surround the establishment of the office or her dealings with the agencies that are part of the office. She pronounced her tenure a success.

“Over the past two years, we have demonstrated the value of shared services as a cost-saving and efficient business model for providing human resources, fiscal, administrative and information technology services,” she wrote.

Brown declined to comment further on her resignation.

She said a year ago she does not answer to the commission that was responsible for recommending her appointment and evaluating her performance.

“Quite frankly, I work for the governor,” Brown said in an interview after addressing the committee during a public hearing. “That’s who appointed me.”

And that was exactly the concern of the three largest of the watchdog agencies. They enforce elections, ethics and freedom-of-information laws – all of which put them in a potentially adversarial relationship with any gubernatorial administration.

The Malloy administration created the Office of Government Accountability in 2011, calling it an efficiency measure to eliminate duplication of back-office functions that support the nine agencies, including the three major watchdogs.

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