Exposing Wasteful Spending at City Hall

08/11/2010 11:14 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With the City facing such a large budget deficit, it is critical for the City of Los Angeles to be smart in how we use our money and make sure none of our funds are going to waste. My latest audit came from a tip to the Controller's Waste, Fraud and Abuse Unit about possible waste in a Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) contract with Integrated Systems Research Corporation (ISR), which provides the Department with Automated Vehicle Locator Systems (AVLS) of the City's parking enforcement vehicles.

Unfortunately, the results of this audit show the LADOT contract was exactly the kind of wasteful spending the City cannot afford.

Overall, the Department wasted at least $855,000 of taxpayer dollars and exceeded its original contract by nearly $2.5 million. Even more troubling is that this fiasco dates back to 2001, when LADOT contracted with ISR with the goal of improving customer service and decreasing officer response times. While these are worthy goals, our audit found that only 11% of the parking enforcement vehicles have fully functioning AVLS.

Furthermore, in May 2006 the LADOT decided to continue leasing the equipment at an additional cost of $577,584 as of May 2010, instead of choosing to purchase the devices for $1. Now that's not just $1 per system, that's $1 total. Though the Department stated that leasing the equipment would allow them to receive software upgrades for ISRT, no such upgrades have been provided since that year, 2006.

The Department's contract has been amended seven times from the original $1.57 million so that the City has now spent more than $4 million to date. I know I sound like a broken record, because I'm constantly saying that the City cannot afford to waste any of its money, but it bears repeating, especially when mismanaged contracts such as this come to light.

Wasting taxpayer dollars -- not just during challenging economic times -- is absolutely unacceptable. I urge the current leadership at LADOT to work to rectify this situation immediately, even if it was not in charge at the time. I know our City departments can do much better in ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used more efficiently and effectively.