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Posted at 02:50 PM ET, 04/23/2010

D.C. audit finds unpaid parking fines for cars assigned to Fenty, Rhee

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee are among city employees whose assigned vehicles have racked up unpaid parking and traffic fines, according to a new D.C. Auditor's report that found poor monitoring of the city's fleet, the employees authorized to drive city vehicles and fuel cards.

A vehicle assigned to the mayor currently has $770 in unpaid fines while a vehicle designated for Rhee has $345. "As of the date of this report, the fines had not been paid," auditor Deborah K. Nichols wrote.

In addition, the auditor's office sampled five of the city's 78 agencies and found 685 unpaid fines, totaling $71,690, since 2002. The agencies -- D.C. Public Schools, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Child and Family Services Agency, the Department of Health and the Department of Employment Services -- explained to the auditor that the fines "were not paid because the agency could not consistently identify the employee who was assigned to use the vehicle when parking and traffic fines were issued."

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Among those same five agencies, 15 vehicles not listed as being government-owned or leased received $27,395 worth of fuel in fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The auditor found that a technology used by some departments that identify vehicles being fueled could prevent such problems.

The auditor's office also looked at a fuel card assigned to Fenty, finding that a Metropolitan Police Department employee used the card on Oct. 3, 2009, in Randallstown, 47 miles away in Maryland. But since the card "did not have the vehicle identification feature, it could not be determined whether the MPD employee used the Mayor's fuel card to refuel a government owned or leased vehicle assigned to the Mayor."

In that same period, the city paid out nearly $1 million in automobile damage claims for accidents incurred by employees in those agencies and the Department of Public Works, according to the report.

One $5,000 claim involved an employee in the Department of Parks and Recreation who failed to "keep in proper lane," according to a police report. The employee was on the way to attend "Bible Study."

The employee's supervisor wrote in a report that similar accidents would be prevented because "Made sure all vehicle's mirrors are tighten and remind drivers to be extra careful."

Nichols said in her report, "Clearly an employee who failed to stay in the proper lane required defensive driver training, not a mirror adjustment or a reminder to be 'extra careful.'"

The Fleet Management Administration, a division of the Department of Public Works, is in charge of overseeing more than 2,635 vehicles, but the department does not keep a list of all city employees authorized to operate government vehicles. In fact, the city lacks uniform policies for all employees.

William O. Howland Jr., director of public works, wrote in a letter to Nichols that several departments, including the Mayor's Office, have been working on a revised "Vehicle Operator's Accountability policy."

Nichols said in an interview that she is still recommending a uniform policy for all departments based on her office's findings. Fleet management "remains decentralized and not well-managed under that operating structure," she said.

By  |  02:50 PM ET, 04/23/2010

Categories:  Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart

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