Follow-Up Report on Audit of Department of Streets and Sanitation Garbage Collection Performance Measurement

A City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) follow-up report concludes that the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) continues to make significant improvements to its garbage collection efficiency in response to OIG’s April 2015 audit findings and recommendations.

Among the original April 2015 audit findings, OIG reported that DSS,

  • lacked the data it needed to accurately quantify its customer base, including the number and location of households and carts it serviced;
  • did not meet all of the Department’s goals—as stated in its Quality Control Order—of ensuring timely lunch breaks and in-between load assignments for laborers; and
  • used performance standards that were not aligned with current operations levels. For example, crews completed their assigned alleys almost two hours faster than the Department’s five-hour minimum goal, indicating that DSS did not assign enough alleys per route.

In its response to OIG’s recent follow-up inquiry, DSS reports that it has reduced its time per alley performance standard from 40 to 32 minutes, decreasing the average daily crew deployment from 352 to 310 trucks, while increasing from 10 to 11 the average number of alleys serviced per day. DSS also committed to a further reduction to 292 crews this fall. To date, the Department reportedly freed up personnel from 52 collection crews to support other services, such as recycling and rodent control. In addition DSS has completed a full inventory of refuse and recycling carts, reporting a total of 1,116,952.

Among other developments, DSS also stated that it issued an addendum to its Quality Control Order 14-001, requiring fuller documentation of all labor and truck activities, as well as two random audits per shift comparing GPS data to truck sheet records.

“DSS’s efforts build on the substantial efficiencies and savings realized by its conversion to grid-based garbage collection,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “While its actions in response to OIG’s 2015 audit is still a work in progress, the Department’s efforts are reflective of an agency increasingly dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of both high-quality and efficient service to Chicago taxpayers as technology and needs evolves.”

The full report including the City’s response to OIG’s inquiry, can be found online.