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Mayor calls for more sunshine at Department of Water and Power

Mayor Eric Garcetti wants an outside consulting firm to review the DWP's labor costs and practices.
Mayor Eric Garcetti wants an outside consulting firm to review the DWP's labor costs and practices.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

Mayor Eric Garcetti is calling for a review of the Department of Water and Power's labor costs and practices at the same time the city controller says he's been stonewalled as he tries to audit two nonprofits funded by the utility. 

The mayor sent a letter Tuesday to the president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners asking that an outside consulting firm be hired to examine how the DWP manages its employees. The request came just one day after Garcetti signed off on a new agreement between the DWP and its union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18. 

"I am directing the department to engage a qualified outside consulting firm to conduct a benchmarking study, including but not limited to, comparison of labor costs and work practices at the Department of Water and Power to other municipal and investor-owned utility companies across the United States," Garcetti wrote in his letter to Commission president Mel Levine, one of the mayor's appointees. 

"This benchmarking study will identify opportunities to achieve greater efficiency and cost savings for ratepayers."

The call for transparency comes as Controller Ron Galperin is attempting to audit the Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute, two groups funded entirely by the utility and overseen by trustees from the DWP and IBEW.

In two letters released by the Controller's Office, however, it is clear the audits have hit major roadblocks. According to the letters, the nonprofits have not turned over the documents Galperin says he needs to review the finances. The trustees representing IBEW have also declined to cooperate, according to Galperin. 

"My office will not be deterred in conducting our audit or in obtaining full and complete accounting of DWP ratepayer dollars," Galperin wrote in a letter to DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and IBEW Local 18's business manager Brian D'Arcy. 

The issue will go to a neutral third party for dispute resolution. 

"The trusts are independent and exist for the benefit of their members. There has been a deadlock between the trustees and we expect this dispute to be resolved as the trust rules require," D'Arcy said in a written statement. 

Nichols did not respond to a request for comment.

The controller has set a January meeting date to discuss the audits with DWP and IBEW.