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Inspector General: Aviation Department Wasted At Least $171,000

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago’s inspector general says the Department of Aviation wasted at least $171,000 on GPS tracking that didn’t work and vehicle tracking capability that it almost never used.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, in the 15-page report, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said that in 2006 and 2007, the department bought 155 GPS-capable cell phones and installed GPS locators on 53 vehicles using technology employed by other city departments. But the report said the department quickly found out the cell phone technology did not work in airport terminals.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Despite that, no one canceled the service, and little effort was made to update who was assigned specific phones.

The report recommends regular audits of technology use, costs and alternatives and a review of best practices for GPS use. The charges spanned the administrations of three commissioners, but the IG is recommending no disciplinary action.

Inspector General’s office spokesman Jonathan Davey said that Aviation employees periodically tried to “report up the chain of command” that the phones did not work and that the program “was a boondoggle,” but said no action was taken.

Davey said that current Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino concurred with the findings. Andolino has been aviation commissioner since April 2009.

Since last fall, Davey said, GPS service has been disconnected on 122 of the phones and 13 of the vehicles.

The audit covered the years 2008 through 2010, so the actual totals expended on the service are higher. In addition, Davey said, it does not take into account that during four of the months reviewed, 90 of the phones were not used at all.

“The $171,000 is the bare minimum,” he said.

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