By Jessica Sanchez and Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporters
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Last month, Joseph M. Centorino was appointed to be the first Inspector General for the City of Miami Beach. He will serve a four-year term, and his initial staff will be composed of nine city employees who were previously within the internal audit department.
Mr. Centorino was the former executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust from 2011 to 2018, and was selected from sixty applicants for the position to lead the new inspector general’s office in Miami Beach.
Centorino explained, “The role of the Inspector General is to provide independent oversight of city operations, through investigations, audits and reviews, for the purpose of identifying fraud, abuse, waste, and inefficiency in city programs, contracts and expenditures.”
City Commissioners appointed Centorino to the position at their October 16th meeting, and approved his employment agreement on October 30th. He will serve a four-year term, and can be reappointed.
Regarding his priorities for the first year, he shared it was to, “Establish the identity of the office as a credible civic resource available to any resident or business entity in Miami Beach interested in advancing and improving the integrity and efficiency of city government.”
In addition, to “Meld the city’s existing internal auditing function and personnel with additional investigative and oversight staff and resources to create a sharp investigative focus enabling the agency to address the areas of the city most vulnerable to waste or abuse.”
And finally, the new Inspector General (or IG) will work to, “Develop sufficient trust and rapport with city personnel and stakeholders that will facilitate the free flow of inside information critical to the success of the agency.”
Before his time with the Ethics Commission, he worked as an Assistant State Attorney at the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office for 25 years, there he led the public corruption division for more than fifteen years.
Centorino holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Political Science from Tufts University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School. He was picked by a committee that included the Miami-Dade state attorney, the county inspector general, the director of the county’s ethics commission and Miami Beach’s attorney.
On November 6, 2018, 81 percent of Miami Beach voters approved an amendment to the City Charter that created the City of Miami Beach Office of inspector General.
Centorino shared his take on sea level rise resiliency with a message to Miami Beach, “Congratulations to the residents of the city for having the foresight to establish, through an overwhelming referendum vote, an independent municipal oversight agency.”
“[One] that should prove valuable in assuring that the great challenge of sea level rise to the future of the city is effectively matched by its commitment of a vast amount of public resources to address the issue. We welcome and invite the public’s insights and involvement in our mission.”
The IG’s office is temporarily located on the third floor of city hall, as they wait for the completion of renovations within the next few weeks at their permanent home in the Old City Hall Building located at 1130 Washington Avenue.
They are in the process of establishing a website and hotline to provide the public with access to information about the IG and the means of communicating in confidence.