The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) billing process for commercial driveway permit annual fees. The purpose of the audit was to determine whether CDOT accurately and completely billed commercial property owners for driveways that use the public way.
Based on the audit results, OIG concludes that the City is losing over $1 million a year due to incomplete and inaccurate billing. Specifically, CDOT either did not bill, or inaccurately billed, an estimated 6,713 permitholders, resulting in an annual revenue loss between $1.1 million and $1.5 million. If collected, this would increase driveway permit revenue by 39%-54%. Furthermore, CDOT has no confidence that all relevant driveways are recorded in its current driveway permit system; the City is thus likely forgoing an unknown amount of additional revenue by not billing all relevant property owners. Finally, OIG found that the City does not actively pursue payment for driveway permit fees that are past due. There were at least 11,561 active permits with $3.8 million in overdue fees in CDOT’s records.
To address these concerns, OIG recommends several steps that CDOT should take to correct the data problems currently hampering its billing operations and to prevent such problems in the future. We also recommend that CDOT collaborate with other departments to include driveway permit fees in the City’s standardized debt collection processes.
CDOT agreed with our recommendations, committing to correct its records, collect unbilled fees, develop standardized procedures, and implement other corrective and preventive measures. CDOT also said it will collaborate with other departments to upgrade its data system and ensure that past due fees are collected.