LAPD buying under fire

21 December 2009
21 December 2009 | Jake Kanter

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has been criticised for breaking procurement rules and mismanaging spend.

An investigation by the department’s internal audits and inspections division found buyers were not securing proper authorisation for purchases, neglecting competitive tendering and failing to log receipts for purchases.

The overall purchasing procedures were “inadequate”, it concluded.

The audit, which viewed 102 transactions from 2007-08, found more than 10 per cent were processed without the correct authorisation from internal officials.

More than half (56 per cent) of purchases worth $2.6 million (£1.6 million) did not have the required receipt to ensure goods and services matched specifications. The LAPD’s Administrative and Technical Services Bureau issued an internal note in September reminding staff to secure correct billing information.

Even contracts below $1,000 (£620) require at least three documented competitive bids, unless it is a specialised product or if the need is urgent. Nineteen of the 102 transactions were below $1,000 and the audit found three were sourced from a single supplier, while the remaining 16 – totalling $15,347 (£9,510) - had no evidence of competition.

“Existing policies and procedures are fragmented and consist of a non-cohesive assortment of departmental and city policies that contributed to a lack of user understanding and compliance,” the report said.

It recommended the LAPD develop a new purchasing manual and reporting mechanism.

Chief of police Charlie Beck told the New York Times a reorganisation of the procurement department would “address the problems, inefficiencies and any wasteful spending”. “The LAPD is entrusted to wisely spend taxpayer dollars. We cannot go to the public asking for more money to increase the size of the department if we are not efficient with our spending,” he added.
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