Greuel presses waste and abuse campaign theme
Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, who has tied her mayoral bid to rooting out waste and fraud at City Hall, released a new audit Monday that claims that the city spent more than $800,000 on equipment it rarely uses and failed to document that it needs.
“It is inexcusable that the Department of General Services spent nearly $850,000 on specialized equipment without a plan to utilize it,” she said in a statement. “The department must take immediate steps to prevent this kind of failure in the future.”
On the campaign trail and in television advertising, Greuel has been highlighting her work as the city’s controller, saying that she has found $160 million in waste and fraud at City Hall.
Her rivals have pounced on the claim, saying Greuel is grossly exaggerating the dollar amount of the potential savings. The Times found that much of the $160-million figure relies on two audits that depend on an accounting maneuver and a revenue projection that the controller's office itself said was unrealistic.
In the audit released Monday, Greuel questions the Department of General Services’ 2008 purchases of a $518,016 mobile lab and a $329,231 drill rig. The lab scarcely has been used and was never certified as a state authorized laboratory, limiting how it could be used, according to the audit. The drill rig mostly has been idle since it was purchased, according to the audit.
Greuel said the department could not provide documentation to justify the purchase and called upon the agency to begin using the equipment.
Department officials said they accept the findings.
“Our plan is to implement controller's recommendations, and we are working to identify funding to address the issues related to the mobile lab,” said Tony Royster, the department’s general manager.
-- Seema Mehta