L.A. Controller Roots Out City Fraud, Waste and Abuse

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Controller Ron Galperin today released his annual report on fraud, waste and abuse complaints involving City 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. In 2019, Galperin’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) Unit received 543 new complaints, an increase of 58 percent over the previous year and the highest amount over a 10-year period. The spike is attributable to the Controller’s newly enhanced, bi-annual fraud awareness training for City employees, which 33,670 employees completed last year.

“My goals are to make the City of Los Angeles more transparent and accountable to the people it serves,” said Controller Galperin. “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.”

Ninety-four percent of all complaints last year came through the Controller’s web intake form and 24-hour telephone hotline, and two-thirds were submitted anonymously. 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.

Galperin’s FWA Unit in 2019

  • 33,670 City employees trained to identify fraud, waste and abuse at the workplace.
  • 543 complaints received.
  • 541 cases closed.
  • 268 required investigation.
    • City agency:
      • 77 involved Dept. of Water and Power.
      • 29 involved Los Angeles World Airports.
      • 21 involved Dept. of Recreation and Parks.
      • 19 involved the Bureau of Sanitation.
    • Type of complaint:
      • 21 percent alleged time theft.
      • 15 percent alleged waste of City resources.
      • 10 percent alleged misuse of authority.
  • 155 cases referred to City departments for action.
  • 23 complaints substantiated.

Case examples

  • Established regular contact with FWA Unit liaisons in every City department to improve the reporting of complaints and assist with investigations.
  • Discovered suspected equipment theft at LAPD and recommended policy changes, resulting in improved inventory controls.
  • Found instances of falsified time cards and unauthorized discounts given to employees and others, leading to disciplinary actions and termination.
  • Investigated an employee for falsified absence excuse documents, prompting referral to the City’s Ethics Commission and the employee’s resignation.

Read the full report at https://www.lacontroller.org/fwa2019.

City employees, contractors and anyone with information can submit a complaint through Galperin’s 24-hour fraud, waste and abuse telephone hotline at 866-428-1514 or online at lacontroller.org/fraud_hotline.

Follow L.A. Controller Ron Galperin at @LAController on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.