OIG’s Chicago Public Library Audit Follow Up Finds That Staffing and Community Needs Are Still Being Ignored

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow up to its May 2018 audit evaluating the design and implementation of the Chicago Public Library’s (CPL) staffing plan (the “plan”). Based on the Department’s response, OIG concludes that CPL has not fully implemented any of the four corrective actions recommended.

The original audit determined that the CPL staffing plan—which allocates positions among 80 library locations—contained deficiencies in its design and implementation, and ultimately did not align library branch staffing with community needs. OIG identified several flaws, such as not collecting and using all relevant data, incorrectly classifying some libraries, and not staffing all libraries in accordance with the plan. OIG previously recommended that CPL conduct a systemwide workload analysis and involve stakeholders in redesigning the plan, which would then be applied to all library locations and evaluated on a periodic basis to adjust to changes in library and community needs.

CPL chose not to conduct a staff workload analysis to understand the amount of time staff spends on specific activities and declined to involve its Board of Directors, employees, and community members in redesigning the plan. CPL has not reviewed categorizations of libraries within the plan, nor developed a formal process for evaluating the plan’s effectiveness; it expects to start these processes in the third quarter of 2019. CPL intends to create a policy to codify how and when the plan will be applied, evaluated, and updated, but not until the end of this year.

“There are a number of reasons for the public to be troubled by this engagement. Diligent and well-intentioned managers of the Chicago Public Library lacked the support, guidance, and decisiveness needed, which in OIG’s perspective was an upper management that was either unengaged or simply absent. As a result, the substantive and timely cooperation needed for full success was lacking. Moreover, the official response in this follow up, as was the case in the original audit, manifests a significant dissonance between a public institution and the very public CPL exists to serve,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “By not supporting its staff and not engaging with its communities, CPL is failing in its mission to support the people of Chicago. I hope a turn of administration brings a fresh re-examination of the issues raised by OIG’s audit.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: http://bit.ly/CPLFollowUp

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.