Baltimore’s inspector general said her office has identified about $1.4 million the city has lost due to financial mismanagement in the 2019 fiscal year.
In a report released Wednesday, the independent oversight office summarizes the agency’s yearlong efforts showing where the city could save money and troublesome spots where Baltimore wasted taxpayer dollars, which taken together total $1.4 million. The report also shows how the number of complaints to the IG’s office has skyrocketed.
Since city residents overwhelmingly voted to make the agency independent from city government in late 2018, Inspector General Isabel Cumming said her team now receives nearly 70 calls to the office’s complaints hotline monthly. The office previously saw about 70 complaints a year, she said.
“We’re just trying to expose a light and the truth on what is happening and, many times, it ends up fixing things,” Cumming said.
The increased complaints have lead to more investigations into financial mismanagement, according to the report. The office reported only $210,000 in identified savings and waste in fiscal year 2018.
The report says the office has expanded to a team of 13 investigators since 2018 to meet the demand of an expanding workload.
High Profile Cases
The report also outlines several high-profile cases of alleged financial mismanagement in several city agencies, which Cumming said was just a sample of the cases her office investigated this year.
Among the more costly cases, the office wrote that the director of the city’s pension systems improperly spent nearly $220,000 in funds from retirement forfeiture accounts to renovate the agency’s offices. The director resigned in September 2018.
The office also highlighted a case in the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development where one employee fraudulently logged sick time hours to collect full paychecks while continuing to work for the department while living in Europe. The investigation found the employee worked “for only a few hours each week remotely” and was told by a senior manager to use accrued leave and sick time to supplement the hours and earn a full paycheck. The employee paid reimbursed the city for $8,656.29.
Another housing department employee had a similar arrangement when she moved to the West Coast, the investigation found. The investigation found the city lost $14,840.88 due to their arrangements.
Neither employee works for the department anymore.
“A lot of people are no longer working for Baltimore City because of people giving us hotline cases,” Cumming said.
Cumming said much of the work has come after citizens voted to make the office independent and she expressed her gratitude to city residents and media outlets, like The Baltimore Sun, that advocated for its independence from city agencies.
“That’s very humbling and I’m very grateful," she said.