The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has transmitted its first quarter report for 2017 to the City Council and City officials. The report summarizes the Office’s activity from January 1 through March 31, 2017.
Also in this quarter’s report are summaries of concluded OIG investigations, inquiries, and other activities. The report includes information on the activities and cases below:
• OIG notified the Chicago Police Department (CPD) of a number of procedural and compliance issues identified by OIG’s investigation of the 2013 sergeant merit promotion process. The shortcomings identified by OIG included the fact that a superior officer asked a subordinate to nominate the Officer and that subordinate lacked personal knowledge of the Officer’s work performance. The same superior officer directed another subordinate to assist the Officer in drafting the nomination. In addition, CPD Human Resources (CPD-HR) failed to confirm the Officer’s eligibility and also proceeded with the promotion despite the fact that the superintendent had not completed the required justification memo. As a result of this incident, OIG’s Hiring Oversight section made several recommendations leading to amendments in the CPD Hiring Plan. In its recent notification, OIG recommended CPD consider further corrective steps, including that the Department revise the merit promotion nominator training, ensure CPD-HR is accountable for compliance with the Hiring Plan, and ensure the command staff is fully aware of its obligations. CPD committed to changing training and procedures in order to address OIG’s concerns.
• A City contractor reserved jobs for individuals based on political considerations, in violation of City rules and the terms of its multimillion dollar contract with the City. In 2014, the Contractor sent an email to an alderman’s staff member stating that the Contractor would “be reserving” 25 jobs for the Alderman’s ward. The Alderman’s office subsequently reported the email to OIG. In addition to offering an exact number of jobs, the email provided details on assigned rates and shifts and asked the aldermanic office to supply names of interested applicants. The Contractor also failed to fully cooperate with OIG’s investigation of the misconduct. In response, DPS initiated debarment proceedings. OIG will report on any actions DPS decides to take after the Department receives a reply from the Contractor.
• On February 3, 2017, the Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. and Redflex Holdings, Ltd. agreed to pay $20 million in restitution and compensatory damages to the City of Chicago in settlement of a civil False Claims suit pursued by the City’s Law Department. The settlement marked the close of a years’ long investigation into federal program bribery and corruption of the City’s red-light camera program. In addition to the recent settlement, OIG’s efforts contributed to two guilty pleas, and the conviction and 10-year term of imprisonment of a City employee who abused his position of power for gross personal benefit.
• An investigator with the Department of Water Management (DWM) gave preferential treatment to a private plumber. The Investigator habitually referred citizens to the plumber and provided addresses of homes where the Investigator noticed work was needed. Homeowners would later find the Plumber’s business card in their mailboxes. The City was alerted to the Inspector’s actions after a citizen complained to the City about poor quality work carried out by the Plumber. DWM planned to impose a 29-day suspension. However, the employee resigned before DWM made its final determination.
• A subcontractor refused to cooperate with an OIG investigation. OIG made multiple attempts to interview the Subcontractor, regarding allegations that the entity submitted false information to the City regarding the number of hours its employees had worked. In response, the Department of Procurement Services (DPS) initiated debarment proceedings, sending a letter to the Subcontractor with a copy of OIG’s findings regarding it failure to cooperate. OIG will report on any actions DPS decides to take after the Department receives the Subcontractor’s reply.
• March 21, 2017, The Human Resources Board upheld the termination of a CDOT employee who drank alcohol during working hours, drove under the influence of alcohol, and drove with an expired driver’s license. Over the course of the hearing, the Employee admitted to having “had a couple” over lunch on the day the Employee was accused of driving under the influence. During the hearing the Employee called the hearing officer “Judgey Wudgey,” and got up from the witness chair, announcing he was ready to leave, while being questioned by his own attorney.
The full Quarterly Report can be found online.