The Los Angeles city controller’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse Unit received 543 complaints in 2019, an increase of 58% over the previous year and the highest amount over a 10-year period, it was announced Wednesday.
Controller Ron Galperin said the spike is attributable to enhanced, biannual fraud awareness training for city employees, which 33,670 employees completed last year.
Of all complaints lodged in 2019, 94% came through the controller’s web intake form and 24-hour telephone hotline, and two-thirds were submitted anonymously.
“My goals are to make the city of Los Angeles more transparent and accountable to the people it serves,” Galperin said. “That means holding departments, employees and anyone who does business with the city to the highest standards of service and ensuring that Los Angeles is doing everything it can to prevent and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse of vital public resources.”
The controller’s office is responsible for investigating the alleged misuse of resources by employees, contractors and others, such as stealing city assets, payroll fraud, contract bid rigging, bribes, kickbacks and gross mismanagement.
When the FWA Unit receives a complaint, it does an initial review and then either launches an investigation, refers the case to a city department or sends it to the appropriate law enforcement or outside government agency.
Of the 543 complaints received last year, 541 cases were closed and 268 required an investigation.
Within city agencies, 77 involved the Department of Water and Power, 29 involved Los Angeles World Airports, 21 involved the Department of Recreation and Parks and 19 involved the Bureau of Sanitation.
About 21% of the complaints involved alleged time theft, 15% alleged waste of city resources and 10% involved alleged misuse of authority.
Of the 155 cases referred to city departments for action, 23 complaints were substantiated.
The full report can be read at www.lacontroller.org/fwa2019.
City employees, contractors and anyone with information can submit a complaint through Galperin’s 24-hour hotline at 866-428-1514 or online at lacontroller.org/fraud_hotline.