Highlights of OIG activity from October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020 include:
- An OIG investigation which established that in the wake of the May 2020 social justice protests, a Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) construction laborer made unprovoked offensive, racist, harassing, and violent comments in Facebook direct messages to a member of the public. The construction laborer’s coworkers subsequently learned about the messages, which they found offensive, and as creating a hostile work environment. In response, CDOT discharged the employee and placed them on the ineligible for rehire list.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Department of Animal Care and Control (CACC) animal control officer (ACO) sexually assaulted two colleagues while off-duty and outside of the office. In addition, after becoming aware of the off-duty incident, the ACO’s supervisor failed to report the incident to superiors and openly used expletives to describe another CACC employee under their supervision who criticized the supervisor’s handling of the information. Additionally, the investigation established that while active or apparent investigations into misconduct by the Chicago Police Department, DHR’s Equal Employment Opportunity Division, and OIG were taking place, another ACO supervisor and a CACC dispatcher each posted images in the CACC office that decried “snitching.” OIG recommended that CACC discharge the ACO and refer them for placement on the ineligible for rehire list, impose discipline up to and including discharge against the ACO supervisor, and impose discipline against the ACO supervisor and CACC dispatcher who posted inappropriate images. In response, CACC discharged the ACO and placed them on the ineligible for rehire list, imposed a seven-day suspension against the ACO supervisor who failed to report the misconduct, imposed a one-day suspension against the other supervisor and verbal counseling for the dispatcher who posted inappropriate material in the office.
- An OIG investigation which established that a Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) elder protective investigator I (EPI I) failed to visit their assigned nursing and rehabilitation facilities for more than a year; falsely reported they made dozens of in-person visits to their assigned facilities and met with staff face-to-face at their assigned facilities; misrepresented their time and attendance to the Department; and made evasive, inaccurate, and deliberately incomplete statements in an official investigation. In response, DFSS agreed with OIG’s recommendations to discharge the employee; the EPI I resigned before DFSS could terminate their employment.
- An OIG investigation which established that a City of Chicago contractor, from 2013 through 2018, submitted weekly, certified payrolls, falsely claiming to be in compliance with Chicago’s Residency Ordinance during the life of four contracts, worth over $162 million. The contracts stipulated that the contractor electronically submit a certified payroll on a weekly basis with employee names and home addresses, in order to verify residency compliance. Instead, the contractor engaged in a multifaceted fraudulent scheme in order to create the appearance of compliance, misrepresenting over 70,000 labor hours across four contracts. The contractor’s misconduct violated the Municipal Code of Chicago, City of Chicago Debarment Rules, and Illinois law on public contractor misconduct. OIG recommended that the Department of Procurement Services (DPS) debar the contractor and the contractor’s president. In response, DPS sent a letter informing the contractor of OIG’s recommendation to initiate debarment proceedings. The contractor submitted a written response and the matter is currently under review by DPS.
- Three OIG notifications regarding:
- Inconsistent conflict of interest policies among public facing City departments and prohibiting City employees from making referrals to outside entities in the course of their official duties;
- The unauthorized practice of airfield escorts for personal purposes; and
- Potential areas of improvement in communication and transparency concerning public reporting of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust’s Smart Lighting Project. OIG recommended that before voting to approve a contract or other City expenditures, Council ensure its members have clear and complete information regarding the anticipated funding sources and financing mechanisms.