An investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office has disclosed that the D.C. Department of Human Resources cannot account for thousands of dollars in equipment because of faulty records from past years.
". . . The absence of controls over property makes it impossible for managers to determine how many of . . . 34,000 items (valued at $14.2 million) have been lost, stolen or destroyed," the GAO said in a report received yesterday at the District Building.
The GAO report has not been publicly released. A copy was obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.
The report, signed by Frank Medico, assistant director of GAO's general government division, said DHR director Albert P. Russo has ordered tightened record-keeping to prevent similar losses in the future.
The GAO did not make any accusations of individual wrongdoing, nor did it estimate the value of the lost equipment.
DHR is the largest D.C. government agency, spending almost one-third of the city's $1.2 billion annual budget. It employes 10,000 people, working in 300 locations.
As part of its investigation, the GAO said it checked 413 items worth $100 or more that were brought by DHR between 1973 and 1976, using federal grants intended for mental health programs. Their total value was $120,000.
The DHR master inventory listed only 237 of the 413 items. The 176 unrecorded items, worth about $48,000, included nine tape recorders worth $1,916, eight air conditioners worth $1,179 and 11 typewriters worth $4,877, the GAO reported.
"In testing the (DHR) inventory practices, we selected and inventoried 84 (other) items valued at about $20,000," the GAO said. ". . . The physical inventory showed that 16 of these items . . . such as a projector costing $389 and five tape recorders totaling $720 were missing from (their assigned) locations."
The report said no inventories had been taken at these assigned locations since 1974.
Russo, the DHR director, ordered a special inventory earlier this month that located 11 of the 16 missing items. But five items worth $1,000 remain unaccounted for.
A random search for 28 other items bought with federal funds disclosed that an elecrocardioscope worth $1,100 and two blood-vessel monitors worth $2,250 were missing.
The GAO report urged Russo to take steps to keep close track of new equipment, make sure inventories are taken annually and arrange for internal audits to be made periodically by a municipal agency.