OIG Finds Waste in Department of Aviation GPS Contracts

OIG published a report concluding that the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) wasted at least $171,000 on GPS service contracts that it failed to utilize. The report details failure of management oversight and underutilization of resources, which spanned the terms of three CDA commissioners and involved multiple employees from the top down.

In 2006 and 2007, CDA purchased 155 GPS capable cell phones to improve department operations.  This service cost approximately $43,197 annually from 2008-2010 for GPS tracking services.  Additionally, the CDA installed GPS locators on 53 of its vehicles.  The GPS tracking for these vehicles cost approximately $38,235 annually. However, the OIG investigation showed that CDA never used the vast majority of its GPS equipment because the technology did not work in airport terminals and did not meet the CDA’s needs, yet the CDA continued to pay for these GPS services.

OIG’s review of GPS and cell phone billing records for a sampling of four months in 2009 and 2010 established that the GPS technology on 105 of the CDA’s 155 GPS-equipped cell phones had never been used.  Similarly, OIG’s review of GPS records for a sampling of three months in 2011 showed that the GPS units on 34 CDA vehicles had never been used.

In sum, OIG’s review established that from 2008 through 2010, the CDA spent an estimated $248,000 in GPS tracking services for cell phones and vehicles.  Nearly 70% of all GPS enabled assets reviewed by OIG never used these services, leading to $171,000 in waste over four years.

OIG made several recommendations to CDA to help ensure this sort of waste does not happen again. First, OIG recommended that CDA immediately take the steps necessary to comply with the City’s existing mobile communications and GPS policies to ensure full and effective use of its GPS technology. Second, OIG recommended that CDA partner with the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) as appropriate to review best practices for use of GPS technology and to establish comprehensive, written policies and procedures regarding GPS and other technology initiatives.  Moreover, OIG recommends that these policies require regular audits of technology use, costs, and any available alternatives that may provide more cost-effective options. Lastly, OIG recommended that CDA review current operating procedures to ensure that appropriate CDA employees are held accountable for the full and effective use of any assigned technology as well as the implementation of all applicable policies. CDA Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino agreed with OIG’s findings and recommendations.  Additionally, in response to the OIG investigation, she disconnected GPS service for 122 cell phones and 13 vehicles in the fall of 2011.