Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Audit: General Services spent $800K on equipment it rarely used

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Officials with the General Services Department spent more than $800,000 on two pieces of equipment that, once purchased, were rarely used, according to an audit released Monday.

City Controller Wendy Greuel (who is also a mayoral candidate) found GSD spent $518,016 on a mobile lab in 2008. The lab should have been used to test materials on city job sites. Instead, it was driven 402 miles in 5 years – though the warranty covered it for 36,000 miles.

That same year, the department bought a Geoprobe Drill Rig for $329,231 to test soil samples in real time. It went unused for the first 18 months the city owned it, and has only been used sporadically since then, according to the audit.

“It is inexcusable that the Department of General Services spent nearly $850,000 on specialized equipment without a plan to utilize it,” Greuel said in a statement. “The department must take immediate steps to prevent this kind of failure in the future.”

The Greuel campaign released its first commercial last week, touting news that the controller has identified $160 million in waste and fraud. Mayoral rival and City Councilman Eric Garcetti questioned that figure. Documents on the controller’s own website say she found $96 million in waste from 2010-12. Figures presented in audits on street furniture and the Real Property Trust Fund appeared to be inflated by the campaign.

The Greuel campaign stands by the $160 million figure. 

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