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What evil lurks in the bowels of city hall? Only the city auditor knows for sure, and he’s not coughing up many details, at least not to the public. Every three months, auditor Eduardo Luna releases a Quarterly Fraud Hotline Report, revealing a chamber of alleged financial horrors, involving “fraud, waste, or abuse” and “violations of certain federal or state laws and regulations,” and the backlog is burgeoning. Alleged incidents of fraud listed as “Open/Unresolved” in the April 7 report included “embezzlement by a city employee,” “abuse of public moneys [by] a group/association,” “misappropriation of funds by an agency,” “improper expenditures by an agency,” “fraudulent disability claim,” “supervisor receiving kickbacks for making favorable work assignments,” “contracting irregularities,” “excessive overtime,” “theft of materials,” and “City staff wasting resources on projects unlikely to be funded.” Another complaint, reported by Luna as “Referred, Awaiting Response,” dealt with “accounting irregularities involving receipt and deposit of City Funds.”

During the nine months between July of last year and March 2010, Luna’s report says, his office spent “approximately 1041 hours investigating 23 Fraud Hotline complaints, and 15 of those complaints are still open.” (Nonfraud-related complaints are referred to City departments for investigation.)

Enter Mel Shapiro, a retired accountant who has sued the City under the state’s Public Records Act to force Luna to turn over copies of complaints, minus names, filed in 66 hotline cases that are identified by the auditor as closed. “The succinct summaries of closed and/or substantiated complaints do not provide the public the ability to assess the specific problems or potential solutions,” Shapiro’s complaint alleges. “There is also nothing to prevent a Department from holding onto the complaint forever, effectively killing it like a ‘tabled’ bill in Congress. In this fashion, the subject department becomes a ‘black hole’ for complaints that may enter, but never return to the Auditor or public. In Los Angeles, in contrast, a neutral body conducts hotline complaint investigations.”

“There is an inevitable potential conflict of interest when the Department investigates behavior complained about in those very departments. This is particularly true, when the complaints are about department heads and other people with administrative authority in the subject department that handle their own hotline complaints.”

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Comments

a2zresource July 8, 2010 @ 1:55 p.m.

I wonder if there are any complaints relating to recently purchased SAP software that is/is not working properly between City departments...

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Fred Williams July 10, 2010 @ 1:29 a.m.

A2Z, keep on that...this SAP systems integration/replacement contract's Statement of Work, when I saw if a few years ago, was very revealing.

It would be great if you could take the time to track each of those items against actual results so far...maybe it shouldn't amaze me that no journalist is on this story, since the few who have any technical skill left journalism a long time ago...and it's this ignorance on the part of the journalism crowd that stops us from finding out about massive waste and fraud in the IT sector.

A2Z, I know you've got the knowledge to dig into this...it would be a great public service. Maybe after you do the spadework, a so-called "real" journalist will follow up with a story or two.

Best,

Fred

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Founder July 18, 2010 @ 8:53 a.m.

Shredding waves is one thing but if the City Auditor is riding some kind of Fraud financial wave toward a happy retirement then everyone not "connected' in San Diego will pay the price. I don't know, but I hope that the City's IBA team is keeping very close tabs on what's happening behind all those closed doors...

Where is the Public in Public Trust?

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nan shartel July 18, 2010 @ 10:25 a.m.

where indeed Founder

and a2z...good going and keep up the good work!!

and where is the TRUST in Public Trust

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Founder July 18, 2010 @ 11:35 a.m.

Public TRU$T, yet another Oxymoron in San Diego..

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a2zresource July 18, 2010 @ 11:57 a.m.

RE "SAP":

I actually have natural persons as sources for this. My own experiences with the County's financial paperwork revealed to me how slow things can get, trying to get refunds of canceled patron County Law Library account $50 deposits back to the people they belonged to.

Without putting anybody's City job in jeopardy, my limited experience as a systems analyst/designer and data processing educator tells me that the SAP software vendors were much more interested in making a big sale than in carefully customizing the accounting software for how City of San Diego departments actually work, especially when things have to be accounted for across department "boundaries" throughout the City. Anybody can wander downtown and ask a City employee behind any counter how much time SAP analysts spent documenting her or his workday to get a real idea of how that work all fits together (or if one showed up at all), and how the SAP software just might have needed to be adjusted to add 2 from this department and 2 from that department together.

There is also the problem that SAP system integration took place in real time, without the original collection of City systems operating in parallel to prove that the entire SAP package was working properly. That's right, folks: anybody doing business with the City of San Diego has just entered a huge experiment in the Twilight Zone. And you thought things were bad back when all we were worried about was getting doubled-billed for parking tickets that were already marked "PAID IN FULL"...

Since my blogging isn't able to be posted here right now, I am starting this alternative vanity news site at http://news.stickywebs.com and also planning on mirroring my posts there at http://blogs.myspace.com/a2zresource as well (anyone wandering through my myfarce blogs will see a lot of stuff that appeared here at http://sdreader.com first). As long as I can still post comments to others' blogs, I'm not gone... yet!

I hope to be back blogging here Real Soon Now...

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Grasca July 18, 2010 @ 12:57 p.m.

I am glad that we are not losing a2zresource. I find his comments very interesting.

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Founder July 18, 2010 @ 1:52 p.m.

I'm with Grasca, a2zresource's comments makes the SDReader better!

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a2zresource July 27, 2010 @ 10:36 a.m.

RE SAP's OneSD City accounting/business system:

In the supporting documents for the 2011 City Appropritations Ordinance that was on City Council's agenda yesterday, the City's Independent Budget Analyst disclosed that although SAP's OneSD system has been in place since last year, the IBA and the City's chief financial officer had yet to sit down and go through City finances for that necessary broad overview that an appropriations ordinance just might require, but that could happen Real Soon Now during the summer.

In other words, that rather expensive SAP OneSD system really does not have anything to do with what the City Council has been doing or may do in the next year (once the app. ord. is cast in stone) regarding pension shortfalls, cuts to services, the new library, the new city hall, the new stadium, forgiving a quarter of a billion in loans and interest to the Redevelopment Agency, or raising the CCDC Tax Increment cap from $2.9 billion to $9 billion.

Has anyone been reading L. J. Peter's THE PETER PRINCIPLE lately on bureaucrats ultimately being promoted to their respective levels of incompetence?

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Fred Williams Aug. 26, 2010 @ 4:50 a.m.

a2z...here's what happened to Marin's SAP implementation:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/08/25/state/n150127D56.DTL

Marin County pulls plug on $30M computer program

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