New Center Launched to Study Corruption and Accountability At the Municipal Level Around the World

Columbia Law School and NYC's Department of Investigation Have Partnered to Launch the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Which Will Expand Research Into Corruption in Local Government.

New York, August 1, 2013—New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn and Columbia Law School’s Dean David M. Schizer announced today the establishment of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity to study corruption and accountability in government. The Center will expand research into corruption at the municipal level in jurisdictions around the world. 

The Center will be a partnership between the Law School and the Department of Investigation, the city’s anti-corruption watchdog and one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country. Commissioner Gill Hearn will chair the Center’s Advisory Board, which will include Columbia Law School Professors Daniel C. Richman and Richard Briffault. The Center will be housed at the Law School.
“One of the reasons we’ve been so successful in attracting talented people to City government is that we’ve made integrity the hallmark of our Administration—and Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn has been at the forefront of that work,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Thanks to her and her outstanding team at the Department of Investigation, we have not only been able to root out corruption, we’ve been able to prevent it from happening in the first place—creating the cleanest government in City history. I have no doubt that the new Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity will benefit from her expertise and build upon her accomplishments.”
“To be a force for good, government has to be honest and free of corruption,” said Dean Schizer, the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law and the Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics. “Nothing is more important than advancing integrity in government, and we are proud to partner with the New York City Department of Investigation in this exciting new initiative. We know it will make a difference."
(left to right) Dean David M. Schizer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn announce the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. (Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Investigation)
“This Center builds upon the important work of the New York City Department of Investigation, and will advance the study and practice of the on-going fight against corruption,” said Commissioner Gill Hearn. “Agencies like DOI are continually busy with investigations and arrests. The Center will be a setting in which to have thoughtful dialogue about anti-corruption strategies which can then be implemented by practitioners. I am thrilled that Columbia Law School will be the home for this innovative endeavor establishing a diverse and knowledgeable resource network for law enforcement practitioners and scholars in the public integrity arena. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and Dean Schizer for recognizing and supporting this groundbreaking initiative."
Although international corruption is a widely studied phenomenon, the Center will focus on abuse of power at the municipal level, a comparatively under-developed field. The Center’s mission is to improve the capacity of public offices and anti-corruption and law enforcement practitioners to deter, identify, and respond to governmental corruption at all levels. Law students will be provided opportunities to engage in the development and the production of the Center’s work, offering them the unique ability to gain broad, practical experience in this important area of the law.
Professors Richman and Briffault will work closely with Commissioner Gill Hearn—DOI’s longest serving commissioner and former deputy chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—to direct the Center’s activities. Professor Richman, the Paul J. Kellner Professor of Law and a former chief appellate attorney in the Southern District, has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice and the F.B.I., testified before a Senate subcommittee on Miranda warnings, and offered expert testimony in various state, federal, and international criminal and civil matters. In 2004, Mayor Bloomberg appointed Professor Richman as chairman of the Local Conditional Release Commission, and he is credited with restoring integrity and order to that office.
Professor Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation, specializes in state and local government law, legislation, the law of the political process, and property. He is the author of several dozen law review articles on campaign finance law, local government law, and state-local relations, and has served as a member of or consultant to several New York City and New York State commissions dealing with state and local governance. Last month, Professor Briffault was named to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which will probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns, and elections.
To pursue its mission, the Center will build and strengthen a professional community of practitioners, develop and disseminate resources that inform and support anti-corruption efforts, and position municipal leaders to understand, appreciate, and implement anti-corruption practices. The Center will organize regular conferences for Inspectors General and other anti-corruption practitioners, assemble a robust database of public integrity contacts, and foster an active peer-to-peer referral network.
The Center will be funded initially for three years by monies returned to DOI in connection with its anti-corruption investigations that resulted in forfeiture proceedings.