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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2018 by Jo Clifton
Audit shows employee wasted time, resources
When the Austin Code Department found evidence in late 2017 that one of its inspectors was using his city car to visit relatives outside the city and was not performing the inspections required by his job, the department referred the matter to the Office of the City Auditor.
In an investigative report released last week, auditors said they found evidence that the unnamed code inspector drove his city vehicle more than 1,330 miles to two residences outside the city and spent more than 40 hours of city time at those two residences. In addition, the inspector in question failed to perform the inspections his job required.
Code inspectors are required to average about five inspections per day, according to auditors. Although the inspector “stated that he met his performance standard ‘most days,’ productivity reports from October 2017 to January 2018 show” that the inspector averaged just 1.43 inspections per day – about 28 percent of what is required for that job.
The auditor’s office analyzed GPS data and found that on at least 88 dates between August 2017 and December 2017, the inspector drove his city vehicle during work hours outside of his assigned work zone to two different locations. Those locations were approximately 8 miles and 4 miles outside his work zone.
When interviewed, the inspector admitted that he was visiting relatives and that he did not have any cases nearby. Although the visits generally coincided with the inspector’s lunch break, that one-hour lunch break regularly extended to two hours, the audit says.
Even though auditors documented only about 40 hours of wasted city time over the five-month period they evaluated, the inspector “admitted to engaging in this behavior dating back to late 2016,” so the number of hours was apparently considerably more than the hours documented.
Auditors noted that this particular inspector completed the lowest number of inspections on his team, “averaging less than half the average of the team as a whole.” Auditors determined that the employee’s actions appear to constitute waste of city resources.
After his actions were discovered, the employee was placed on administrative leave and he voluntarily resigned before his department could take disciplinary action, according to the audit.
Cora Wright, director of the Austin Code Department, noted in her response to the audit that it was the inspector supervisor who first learned of the employee’s alleged misconduct in November 2017 after the inspector joined the new supervisor’s team.
“Improved management oversight, standardized performance expectations, and regular monitoring of caseloads and case management all contributed to the discovery of the employee’s apparent misconduct. This added oversight came as a result of an ongoing department-wide realignment begun in October 2017, in which ACD implemented more rigorous performance management tools, procedures, and standards for all field enforcement staff. These include monthly case reviews, quarterly ride along appraisals, a quality assessment of all open cases, and productivity in response time standards,” Wright wrote.
She added that the department is currently piloting a new vehicle GPS tracking system to obtain more reliable vehicle-location data and that management was regularly communicating updates and reminders of expectations regarding policies, “particularly those pertaining to the use of city resources.”
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