Oakland's city auditor on Wednesday released a critical report on how police managed its technology department, highlighting that the department spent nearly $2 million on "systems that were never used" and other ares of "waste."
The Police Technology Performance Audit (PDF) covers the fiscal years of 2006 through 2011, and was performed by Courtney Ruby.
“Oakland is experiencing a public safety crisis, yet the city has drawn down our very limited financial resources on some police technology systems without significant benefit to the citizens of Oakland,” Ruby said in a statement. “Purchasing any technology system requires careful planning and coordination, otherwise you end up just throwing money at a problem as this audit showed.”
The report does not address the poor quality of the department's radio system, which has been in the news lately, especially because the system didn't work properly when President Obama was visiting.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Police Chief Howard Jordan acknowledged that the system hasn't been working either and the criticism wasn't any surprise. He admitted the waste was significant promised to do a better job.
"We accept there have been some mistakes made with the department's ability to manage the projects," Jordan told NBC Bay Area in an interview. "I don't think that was our intention. We've learned a lot from that and we're taking steps to correct them. I don't take that lightly. I mean, $2 million to me is about 20 more cops and the very resource-strapped city that we have... that is not something I take very lightly. It is concerning to me. That's why we're taking the steps to avoid future spending problems such as this."
The audit revealed that at least $1.3 million was spent on systems that were never used and $500,000 was underused. "While many factors contributed to this waste, these failures can generally be ascribed to vendors going out of business and poor communication and coordination" between the Department of Information Technology and Oakland police, the audit stated.
The audit showed:
- OPD did not thoroughly evaluate Oakland’s technology needs, such as comprehensively identifying services, hardware, software, or the reliability of vendors. The audit showed that OPD failed to track its systems after they were purchased, consequently requiring the Office of the City Auditor to create an inventory of OPD’s technology systems and their associated costs.
- OPD lacked budgeting, management reporting, and a technology purchasing plan based on strategic objectives. Because OPD failed to implement effective management of its technology systems, OPD lost money on five of 12 systems reviewed by the audit; for three of these systems this was, in part, because the vendors went out of business and OPD failed to secure a performance bond in the contracts.
- The roles and responsibilities regarding OPD’s management of its technology were not clearly defined and that communication between OPD and DIT was ineffective. The audit identified that neither OPD nor DIT has been complying with the City’s policies regarding purchasing, contracts and record retention. The audit also found that OPD did not provide appropriate training for its staff that is responsible for managing its technology systems and projects.
To see an earlier NBC Bay Area report on Oakland's radio failure, click here.
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