Controller: Contract to equip LA parking enforcement with GPS wasted $855,000

A contract to equip the Los Angeles Department of Transportation's parking enforcement vehicles with global positioning systems wasted at least $855,000 in taxpayer money, according to an investigation being unveiled today.

City Controller Wendy Greuel will hold a news conference to point out "significant issues of waste and financially irresponsible decisions by LADOT, which defy comprehension," in connection to a deal with Integrated Systems Research.

The investigation found that LADOT has paid about $4 million since 2001 to lease 625 "automated vehicle locator systems" for its parking enforcement vehicles.

The devices have a global positioning system and allow LADOT to track the whereabouts of its parking enforcement vehicles to improve officer safety and manage resources efficiently.

Greuel said the original contract cost $1.5 million over five years. When that expired, in 2006, LADOT had the option to purchase the devices for just $1 – but declined to do so.

The investigation showed that LADOT management found it necessary to continue leasing the equipment so that the contractor would continue to provide software upgrades.

Greuel noted, however, that the contractor has not provided any software upgrades since 2006.

LADOT's decision to continue leasing the devices has cost taxpayers an additional $577,584 as of May, Greuel said.

On top of that, she added, LADOT purchased $213,110 worth of replacement equipment for the devices in 2004 – when those should have been covered by the warranty.

The investigation also found that LADOT allowed the devices to deteriorate to the point where only 11 percent of parking enforcement vehicles have fully functional units at present.

Greuel said LADOT has continued to pay for the monthly lease and air carrier charges for 178 devices which have been in storage since 2008.

Meanwhile, 44 other devices cannot be accounted for, according to the investigation.

The executive summary of the investigation findings stated: "We estimate that at least $855,000 in city funds has been wasted on this program through May 2010. This amount was calculated based on continued lease payments over four years after the purchase option was available; payments for replacement upgrades while equipment was under warranty; and payments for airtime services for unused equipment under storage since 2008."

According to the report, LADOT officials indicated that decisions regarding the contract were made by prior management.

It added that a move to replace the devices has been delayed due to "changing departmental priorities and lack of staff."

The investigation was prompted by a tip to the city controller's Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline, (866) 428-1514.