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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019 by Jo Clifton
Audit says employee misused city computer
Investigators in the Office of the City Auditor have released a report showing that a staff member in the Development Services Department used his city computer to operate his personal online business.
Auditors released a report Monday stating they had found evidence that Mauricio Ramos, who works as a site and subdivision inspector, accessed websites for the two online video editing platforms he operates.
“We found at least 12,000 hits between November 2017 and August 2018 related to his businesses, as well as two other online resources for video content, creation, editing and rendering,” auditors wrote. In addition, auditors reported they found more than 100 search items “related to editing, videos and animation.”
Ramos did not deny accessing online resources for his personal business with the city computer, and apologized at great length in his written response, claiming that he misunderstood city regulations.
Clifton Franklin, the human resources adviser in the Development Services Department, sent a memo to Brian Molloy, chief of investigations for the city auditor’s office, stating that DSD had reviewed the report and was working with Human Resources “to determine the appropriate disciplinary action.”
Auditors received an allegation against Ramos last September, which asserted that Ramos not only used his city computer to operate his personal business, but that he “stole city time by coming in late and leaving early” while claiming to have worked his entire shift. Ramos denied that allegation.
The informant who contacted the auditors also stated that Ramos claimed overtime to which he was not entitled. Auditors could not determine whether that was the case.
However, when they interviewed him, “Ramos admitted that he spends anywhere between one and two hours of his city work time per day working on his businesses but he told us that he does this during his downtime.” Ramos’ supervisor told auditors that the work group did not have any downtime due to the demands of the job.
In his written response to the allegations, Ramos said he had miscommunicated about spending one to two hours per day on what he called his “online hobbies.” He said he actually spends “a few hours in aggregate throughout any given week” on those hobbies.
Ramos also said that working on the hobbies never impacted his job performance and pointed out that the nature of the job creates “inevitable downtime.” That includes waiting on other parties for meetings, inspections and utility testing.
Ramos told auditors that he had never taken any income from his online projects. However, his LinkedIn page describes him as an “entrepreneur with a focus on video marketing & automation, business strategy, management, growth, marketing, SEO and digital asset management. With a proven track record in above disciplines, Maurice works with various companies in the likes of Google, Fullscreen, JukinVideo, MCN Freedom, QuizGroup to grow his online ventures.” He is listed as the founder of EditorsDepot and the co-founder of MotionDen. Finally, on his list of jobs and hobbies, Ramos notes that he is a construction inspector for the city of Austin.
The Austin Monitor reached out to Ramos to discuss the report, but he declined to comment.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Development Services Department: A city department that reviews development and inspection services.
Office of the City Auditor: This city department is created by the city's charter in order to establish and ensure "accountability transparency, and a culture of continuous improvement in city operations."