Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today the results of an internal investigation the City Administration has conducted of the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) Facilities Management Operations. The investigation was pursued after the City Administration received an internal complaint warranting an assessment of operations, contracted labor, vendor payments, and equipment purchases under the management of that division of public works.
Facilities Management is responsible for maintenance of city facilities and currently represents an annual expenditure of approximately $25 million in equipment purchases and contractor costs. “We’ve found several operational inefficiencies that bring into question the credibility of the existing operation and my level of concern has led me to turn over the results of our investigation to the Commonwealth Attorney for further investigation,” stated Mayor Jones. “We have taken the necessary steps and actions to secure the operations of the division in question, but the level of discrepancies that were found and the potential overpayments that our findings uncovered warrant further investigation and potential legal action.”
“This investigative effort is reflective of the tenets I set in motion under our Well-Managed Government focus area,” continued Mayor Jones. “We have been and will continue to confront the inertia of business as usual and the findings I’m sharing with you today are part of our systematic effort to identify areas needing improvement and to implement change and improved performance throughout city agencies.”
Operational concerns identified within the division include:
· Invoices with inaccuracies, resulting in overpayments to vendors
· Purchase order number changes after invoices had been received
· Non-existent purchase order numbers being issued
· Over-usage of contract labor
· Potential favoritism of certain vendors
The Mayor explained that the investigative effort is proactive in nature and in no way interferes with the ongoing work of the city auditor. “As I’ve indicated from the beginning of this administration, we welcome the work of the auditor as it is the function of the auditor to identify inefficiencies and areas where improvement or corrective action is necessary. We want that office to continue its periodic efforts as this cooperation only furthers our well-managed government effort. We’ve been consistent in following recommendations that come out of that office as appropriate. But at the same time, there is no reason that we can’t be proactive in our own right, where possible, as the auditor does not review operations of every department annually. We seek to always operate in a way that ensures the proper stewardship of the taxpayer’s dollar.”
In an additional disclosure, again related to DPW, the Mayor revealed the interception of several thefts that had recently occurred in the department’s Operations Division. The thefts involved eight spreaders in the department's fleet which are used for the application of salt and sand during snow storms. The spreaders, which had been designated as surplus, were salvaged by two employees of the department. The employees were given the option to make full restitution in the form of payment for the items stolen and to also be terminated from city employment with an agreement not to seek re-employment with the City.
"We contacted the Commonwealth's Attorney about this matter as well, but we chose to give the employees involved an option to make restitution in exchange for sharing all information with management about any employee misconduct," said Mayor Jones. "The Commonwealth Attorney has agreed with this approach understanding that we will seek prosecution if necessary."
"On one level, it is disturbing to me that we continue to uncover such misconduct within city government. It taints the entire operation of over 4,000 employees when a few bad apples continue to make headlines," stated Mayor Jones. "On another level, this shows that we will continue to catch wrongdoers and we will continue to sniff out any operational problems that may exist and to make improvements."