The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its June 2015 Loading Zone and Residential Disabled Sign Processes audit of the Departments of Transportation (CDOT) and Finance (DOF). OIG concludes that CDOT and DOF have partially implemented corrective actions related to the audit findings.
Our original audit revealed that CDOT conducted site surveys and billing for loading zone signs, while DOF conducted site surveys and billing for disabled parking signs. Aldermen reviewed both types of sign requests, and, if approved via ordinance, CDOT installed the signs. The purpose of the audit was to determine if the applicable fees were collected and to identify any delays in the installation processes.
Regarding the loading zone sign process, OIG found that the City had failed to collect $3.9 million in recurring loading zone fees invoiced in 2013, and miscalculated installation fees resulting in overpayments of $10,550 by business owners who requested signs. Also, CDOT took an average of 337 days after receiving an approved request to install a loading zone sign. Based on our findings, OIG recommended that CDOT restructure the loading zone process to improve efficiency, as the department itself had proposed in 2013, or pursue alternative means of correcting problems with its billing and installation processes. Possible alternatives identified by OIG included creating a complete inventory of signs, thereby enabling CDOT to identify business owners responsible for annual fees, and developing procedures for collecting unpaid fees. In addition, we recommended that CDOT take measures to ensure that the installation fees charged, accurately reflected the Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) requirements, and that the Department work with City Council to establish reasonable and specific timeframes for installation.
Regarding the residential disabled parking sign process, OIG found that the City had collected 100% of installation fees for signs installed in 2013, but failed to collect $3,250 in annual renewal fees and took an average of 207 days after receiving an approved request to install a disabled parking sign. Based on our findings, we recommended that DOF review all disabled parking sign records to ensure that they were marked with the appropriate billable status, and review the process to ensure accuracy moving forward. Also, we recommended that DOF work with City Council to develop a more cost-effective and timely way to provide residential disabled parking signs.
CDOT and DOF agreed to implement corrective actions in response to our recommendations. In April 2016, OIG followed up with the Departments regarding the status of the corrective actions, as well as any other actions they may have taken. Based on their responses, OIG concludes that, although CDOT did not restructure the loading zone process, it has fully implemented three of the recommended corrective actions, including by simplifying the sign approval process in cooperation with City Council, and it has partially implemented the fourth. DOF has begun the process of addressing our recommendations, but has not yet fully implemented one of the recommended corrective actions.