The District of Columbia auditor's office has concluded that police officers working overtime can paint walls and tile floors more cheaply than the city agency responsible for performing those tasks, the Department of General Services.
The auditor's analysis released by City Councilman David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) yesterday stemmed from a report in The Washington Post in March that high ranking police officials were authorizing thousands of dollars in overtime to have their offices repainted and refurbished by policemen.
Clarke asked the auditor's office to examine the practice and determine the cost to the city.
Matthew S. Watson, the city auditor, concluded:
"The major concern . . . is not potential saving or use of (police) departmental personnel to perform such duties, but whether the Department of General Services is capable of maintaining District properties so they are safe, attractive and provide a good working enviornment."
Considering "the deteriorating condition of District-owned buildings," Watson said, the City Council should give "particular attention" to increasing that agency's budget to allow for prompt maintenance and avoid such self-help projects as those embarked upon by the police.
Clarke said, "The conclusion is that it costs less for the metropolitan police to do the work on overtime. Given the inefficiency of DGS, I'm not terribly surprised. This closes the case as far as the police department is concerned, and opens it as far as DGS is concerned."
Clarke said he was forwarding the report to Councilman Arrignton Dixon (D-Ward 4), head of the Committee on Government Operations, for consideration during fiscal 1980 budget preparations.
DGS officials have maintained that they do no have enough money or manpower to keep up city offices to be repainted every five years, but in many cases DGS has not been able to meet that schedule, officials say.
The auditor's report concluded that between last Oct. 1 and May 20 of this year, the police department spent $3,223 for repainting walls and tiling floors. Most of the expense was overtime for the police workers.
It would have cost $568 more to have the DGS do the job, the report said. The difference is largely due to administrative charges assessed by DGS in doing any job. The auditor questioned whether these charges are necessary.
All of the police overtime paid for refurbishing work was authorized by Inspector Roland W. Perry, chief finance officer, and all of it was for work in his office complex, the report said.
Perry said in an interview in March that he had authorized the work because DGS would take too long to do it and would charge more, and because the improvements would boost employe morale. He said he would authorize overtime for any other section of the police department seeking similar improvements, but he could not recall having done so.
Cheif of Police Burtell M. Jefferson ordered the practice stopped after The Post reported it.