By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Housing Authority, in an effort to be more transparent and accountable, is beefing up two key departments, in an attempt to turn the troubled agency around.

One of the complaints against the housing authority had been that it was spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars on outside lawyers. United States Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, was so alarmed that earlier this month, he sought billing records from 20 Philadelphia law firms that were retained by the PHA.

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Newly installed PHA chief Michael Kelly is re-establishing a general counsel’s office within the agency, including in-house lawyers. He says it’ll lead to substantial savings. Kelly also is creating an office of internal audit and compliance, to ‘muscle up’ oversight.

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“We feel it’s equally important for us to have in-house capacity long-term, for us to be self-examining on procedures, and how we do business around here,” Kelly says.

Kelly was brought on late last year after PHA fired former director Carl Greene, after reports PHA secretly paid three women hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle sexual harassment complaints against Greene.

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Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060