The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) controls related to regular-duty overtime. The objective of the audit was to determine if CPD effectively manages regular-duty overtime to prevent waste and abuse.
There are a variety of reasons why CPD members may work overtime related to their regular shifts, such as attending a court hearing arising from an on-duty arrest during off-duty hours or processing an arrest at the end of a shift. This regular-duty overtime constituted 56.3% of all overtime dollars earned by CPD members from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. The remaining 43.7% was earned by members voluntarily working special assignments (called Voluntary Special Employment, or VSE) on their days off, such as extra shifts for the City’s Violence Reduction Initiative, or shifts for the Chicago Transit Authority. This audit focused on regular-duty overtime, which the Department records using a paper-based process that requires timekeepers and support staff to make manual calculations and enter hard copy information into two separate data systems—the City’s payroll system (the Chicago Integrated Personnel and Payroll Systems, or CHIPPS) and CPD’s management reporting system (Citizen and Law Enforcement Management and Reporting, or CLEAR). Unlike regular-duty overtime, VSE overtime requests are submitted, approved, and maintained entirely electronically with no need for manual calculation or additional data entry.
OIG concluded that CPD’s manual timekeeping process is costly, inefficient, and lacks operational controls that would curb unnecessary overtime expenditures and ensure accurate recordkeeping. Furthermore, CPD management does not effectively monitor and manage overtime to prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and officer fatigue. Research suggests that excessive overtime can contribute to officer fatigue, which can increase the likelihood that officers will be injured on the job, involved in vehicle accidents, or exercise poor judgment under stress.
OIG found CPD does not have controls adequate to prevent the payment of unnecessary overtime, deter abuse of minimum time provisions, or ensure overtime is paid accurately and in compliance with existing overtime policies and procedures. Many of these weaknesses are due to CPD’s reliance on manual, paper-based timekeeping and overtime approval processes.
Without adequate management controls and monitoring tools in place, CPD cannot effectively manage the workloads and hours of individual members, or limit unnecessary overtime expenditures. Department management has not taken proactive steps to address overtime issues even in areas where management is aware of potentially inappropriate practices.
Many of CPD’s timekeeping directives are out-of-date, vague, incomplete, and do not reflect the Department’s actual practices. CPD also lacks policies limiting shift length and overtime hours worked within a given period to ensure that officers can optimally meet the stressful demands of their job serving the public. Research suggests that excessive overtime can contribute to officer fatigue, which can increase the likelihood that officers will be injured on the job, involved in vehicle accidents, or exercise poor judgment under stress.
OIG recommends that CPD management set a “tone at the top” emphasizing the importance of accurate, verifiable timekeeping records, and establish the controls necessary to meet this goal. To address specific issues raised by this audit, CPD should implement an automated timekeeping system, provide supervisors the tools they need to monitor and assess overtime use, hold supervisors accountable for monitoring overtime, and ensure that Department directives are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect current practices.
In response to our audit findings and recommendations, CPD acknowledged deficiencies in its manual timekeeping system. To address these deficiencies, CPD stated that by the end of 2017 it will begin to require employees to electronically record both the start and end of their work day or shift using an electronic swiping system, and will fully implement an electronic system for all other timekeeping purposes, including monitoring overtime, by mid-2019. CPD also committed to providing more training to timekeepers, supervisors, and officers regarding proper use and recording of overtime, and to conducting spot-check internal audits of timekeeping. Finally, CPD committed to a more robust process of managing overtime use, including reviewing overtime trends in Compstat meetings, and holding supervisors accountable for monitoring overtime usage in their units—two improvements that CPD has said in the past it would adopt, but has never fully implemented.