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Fontana, Costa Call For Removal of ICA Director, Criminal Investigation
On April 5, 2016
Harrisburg, April 5, 2016 – State Sen. Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Caucus Chairman Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) called today for the removal of Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) Executive Director Henry V. Sciortino and requested a criminal investigation into the financial activities involving the authority.
“There certainly are serious questions about the executive director’s activities and there simply has been a lack of scrutiny and accountability,” Costa said. “The ICA is dealing with millions of dollars with little transparency and oversight.
“The ICA should remove Sciortino as the first step toward regaining some semblance of credibility.”
A series of news reports over the weekend and into this week have raised questions about the operations of the ICA and Sciortino’s role with the authority.
“The news reports confirmed what I have believed all along,” Fontana said. “The ICA was accountable to no one; rudderless, led by an individual who had little incentive to help Pittsburgh – other than personal gain.”
“The issues that have been raised over the weekend about the ICA’s executive director add fuel to the fire. Enough is enough.”
Costa and Fontana said that the issues raised in the media reports were so significant that not only should Sciortino be removed as executive director, but they have asked the district attorney and/or attorney general to consider an investigation to determine if laws were broken.
The ICA was created as an oversight board when Pittsburgh was in the throes of a financial crisis. Sciortino is its lone employee.
According to published reports, 92 percent of records, most bank records between 2004 and 2009, minutes of board meetings and information relative to no-bid contracts with vendors have been destroyed.
“Given the lack of records and accountability, we need an investigation that will look behind ICA denials and the loopholes in the law to determine if there were any financial improprieties,” Fontana said.
Fontana, who has been an outspoken critic of the ICA, called for the authority to be disbanded last year. At the time he said that “the authority has morphed into a bureaucracy bent on impeding Pittsburgh’s economic resurgence . and going to ridiculous length to continue operating.”
The Democratic senators said they are preparing legislation to require additional Department of Community and Economic Development oversight and were, for instance, insistent on a forensic audit of the ICA by the state auditor general.
The legislation will also require:
- An update of Act 11 to provide greater transparency at the authority, record keeping that meets the standards of other state agencies, and the means to address governance issues raised by the Auditor General’s recent audit;
- A records retention policy that is consistent with the policy of the Department of the Office of Administration. This record retention policy will require that most financial information be maintained for a minimum of four years; tax information, payroll, and audits have to be maintained for seven years;
- The Auditor General to conduct a forensic audit to determine current fund balances, both for the operation of the ICA and money that was intended to be held or allocated to the City of Pittsburgh. The audit will attempt to ascertain the expenses and contracts of the authority over the last seven years;
- The ICA to file reports with DCED on the finances, including ledger sheets, any contracts that the agency enters, and reports on allocations made to Pittsburgh from gaming revenue;
- The ICA to maintain a publicly accessible internet website and post completed financial records online, including budgets and contracts entered; it will also provide a formal process for determining the use of the gaming monies and will specify when and how gaming money is to be distributed to Pittsburgh;
- Once new staff is hired and the forensic audit is completed, the legislation will require that Pittsburgh use the monies for pension payments.
“The ICA has operated behind the curtain long enough. It is time to shine light on the operations of the ICA, their finances and the activities of their executive director,” Costa said.