What is the SCI?
The State Commission of Investigation was established in 1968 as an independent fact-finding agency.
Its mission is to identify and investigate organized crime, corruption and waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers' dollars.
The SCI is required by law to pursue these investigations beyond the sphere of political influence or favoritism. The law also requires the SCI's findings to be made public through written reports and/or public hearings.
What does the SCI Investigate?
The SCI is empowered to conduct investigations involving effective enforcement of state laws, with particular reference but not limited to organized crime and racketeering; the conduct of public officers and public employees; and any matter concerning public peace, safety and justice.
The Commission also can investigate the management of affairs of any state department, board, bureau, authority or agency, and recommend reforms and improvements in governmental operations.
Prominent examples of the more than 100 investigations successfully carried out by the SCI over the course of its history include multiple probes of the state Division of Motor Vehicles, the E-ZPass and enhanced motor-vehicle inspection contract procurements, organized crime infiltration of the boxing industry, casino gambling, the drug trade, criminal street gangs, motor fuel tax evasion, boarding home and psychiatric hospital abuses and local government corruption.
Who Can Request an Investigation by the SCI?
SCI investigations over the years have been undertaken as a result of contacts and referrals from many different sources. The Governor, members of the Legislature, and other public officials at the federal, state, county and local level can bring matters before the Commission.
So can average taxpayers. In fact, a substantial measure of the SCI's most recent work targeting abuses in new home construction and local government corruption has had its genesis in complaints filed by taxpayers. Rebuffed in their search for investigative help elsewhere in government, they turned to the SCI, and its Web site Hot Line – and got results.
Does the SCI Duplicate the Work of Law Enforcement Agencies?
No. The SCI has a unique statutory mission and is a source of intelligence and historical data that serves to enhance the work of other governmental agencies, including the traditional law enforcement community.
Law enforcement entities, such as the FBI, County Prosecutors ' Offices, the State Police and the state Attorney General's Office, conduct criminal investigations designed to result in prosecution. The SCI is an investigatory body that conducts fact-finding probes, often targeting wasteful and abusive governmental practices, and makes the results public even if no criminal prosecution is contemplated. The SCI is complementary, neither redundant nor duplicative, nor does it interfere with the workings of other agencies.
Since the SCI does not have prosecutorial functions, it is required to refer information of possible criminality to the appropriate authorities.
What Makes the SCI Unique?
The framers of the SCI's enabling statute in 1968 felt it was vital for this expert independent agency to function at arm's length from the routine partisan and bureaucratic fray of state government.
To eliminate even the appearance of political influence in the SCI's operations, no more than two of the Commission's four members may be of the same political party. They derive from three separate appointing authorities (the Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker), and serve staggered four-year terms. Further, members and staff of the SCI are prohibited from participating in non-federal political activity in New Jersey .
The significant fact that the SCI is funded through the Legislature and is not tethered to the Executive branch is central to the construct that provides the SCI with the integrity and the independent stature necessary to perform its job in a credible fashion. In addition, the Commission also makes recommendations for systemic regulatory reforms.
Do Taxpayers Get Their Money's Worth From the SCI?
Undoubtedly. In fact, as a result of the various statutory, regulatory and administrative changes and reforms enacted as a result of the SCI's many investigation, this is one of the few agencies of government that has saved taxpayers more money than they have ever spent on its operations.