D.C. agencies failed to follow own watchdog's advice

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Photo - Audit documents (ThinkStock photo)
Audit documents (ThinkStock photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

District agencies failed to address dozens of recommendations from the city's internal watchdog to improve their programs and operations, the D.C. inspector general said.

Inspector General Charles Willoughby's office found that of 239 recommendations investigators issued in a three-year period during former Mayor Adrian Fenty's tenure, city agencies had not fully implemented 33 of them.

"The results of our audit indicate that [the inspector general's] recommendations were not timely resolved," Willoughby wrote.

The proposals Willoughby's office recommended -- and the agencies agreed to implement -- spanned the city's government.

According to Willoughby, 11 of the 21 agencies his office audited had failed to implement at least one recommendation. The proposals covered matters ranging from training programs to recovering overpayments to city contractors.

The agencies' responses also included an array of explanations for their inaction, including budget limitations and legal restrictions. In other instances, the involved offices and departments said they had fulfilled the recommendations but that they could not provide necessary records to prove their success.

The Office of Risk Management, which D.C. law requires to oversee the implementation of the inspector general's recommendations, said it would move quickly to spur action.

"ORM will follow up with officials of the agencies who have not fully implemented the 33 recommendations issued by the office of [the] inspector general to ensure that these agencies work to timely close out all outstanding recommendations," said Phillip Lattimore, the city's chief risk officer, in a letter to Willoughby.

But Willoughby's report noted that the ORM had failed in the past to trigger movement on recommendations.

Although 44 recommendations weren't fully implemented in a three-year period beginning in the 2005 fiscal year, Willoughby said Lattimore's office did not track their progress.

Ward 3 D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh said the report's findings were worth noting.

"If they are really important to operating the agencies and they aren't being done, we should be concerned," Cheh said.

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said he had not reviewed the report, but he said the administration is mindful of Willoughby's suggestions.

"Since we've taken office, we've worked to make sure we implement the ones that make sense," Ribeiro said. "We do make a concerted effort to try to take those into account."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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