The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its January 2016 audit of opportunities for civilianization in the Chicago Fire Department (CFD). Based on the Department’s response, OIG concludes that CFD has only partially implemented corrective actions principally because of potential constraints on staffing under the recently expired collective bargaining agreement with Chicago Fire Fighter’s Union, Local 2.
The purpose of the January 2016 audit was to identify positions held by uniformed members at CFD that could instead be filled by civilians. Our audit found that CFD,
- assigned 35 uniformed members to positions that did not require firefighting or emergency medical response training and experience, and could save an estimated $1.2 million annually by civilianizing 34 and eliminating 1 of these positions; and
- provided at least 13 reasonable accommodations related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) either informally or without the required approval of the City’s Disability Officer.
Based upon the results of our audit, we recommended that CFD,
- civilianize 34 specific positions and eliminate the position of commissary liaison;
- undertake a comprehensive assessment of all uniformed member assignments to identify further opportunities for civilianization;
- assess temporary assignments before filling them with uniformed members, to determine if they could be performed by civilians;
- develop a method to identify, track, and routinely review all temporary assignments to ensure that uniformed members are returned to operations in a timely manner, and that temporary assignments have not passively defaulted or otherwise evolved into permanent positions;
- document job descriptions and duties for all positions, and ensure that the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) are informed of the actual responsibilities of uniformed members, not just their titles; and
- comply with the City’s Reasonable Accommodation Policy by ensuring that all ADA reasonable accommodation requests are submitted to DHR’s Disability Officer for review and approval or denial.
In January 2017, OIG inquired with CFD regarding the status of the corrective actions the Department committed to in response to OIG’s audit and any other actions it may have taken.
Based on CFD’s response to OIG’s January 2017 follow-up inquiry, OIG concludes that while CFD fully implemented the recommended corrective action to address OIG’s finding respecting required approvals of ADA accommodations, it has only partially implemented the recommended corrective actions to address the original audit’s finding respecting civilianization. CFD reported that it was not able to civilianize 15 of the 32 positions it had previously committed to converting because of barriers to those cost and efficiency reforms potentially imposed by the recently expired (but currently applicable) collective bargaining agreement with Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2. As a result, CFD continues to employ trained firefighters in mail delivery positions, for example. We acknowledge those potential constraints but urge CFD to continue its work with DHR, OBM, and the Department of Law (DOL) and its labor negotiators to enable the civilianization of the positions identified in the original audit.
“As OIG detailed in its recent Review of the City’s Collective Bargaining Agreements, the City and its union partners have a generational opportunity to right-size labor contracts to reflect contemporary operations and meet their collective responsibility to the taxpayer to maximize organizational and operational benefits. That is no more important than in the realm of public safety which, including CFD constitutes more than half of the City’s workforce and operating budget,” says Inspector General Joe Ferguson.
Both the original audit report and the full follow-up report can be found online at the OIG website.
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