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The Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides an independent and objective assessment of government policies, programs, and operations by conducting audits, evaluations, and investigations. The purpose of this letter is to address concerns regarding overtime pay raised during an ongoing audit. It is the opinion of this office that in order to mitigate waste and promote efficiency by public entities, voluntary hours worked for a premium rate in excess of normal working hours should be excluded when calculating overtime.
It is important that government entities spend public funds in an efficient and effective manner. This includes properly following relevant laws when compensating public employees. This is especially important during Carnival season when many employees work overtime for higher rates of pay. We anticipate this guidance will help these entities properly calculate their overtime pay going forward.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is authorized to comment on rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and transactions for the purpose of preventing fraud, waste, and abuse, or promoting efficient and effective government. This letter addresses the potential benefits of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) using the City’s existing Budget, Requisition, and Accounting Services System (BRASS) as its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to replace its current, outdated ERP system.

OPSO is charged with providing for the care, custody, control and rehabilitation of inmates, as well as providing the highest level of service and security to the court systems, the execution of court mandates, and the protection of individuals’ rights and freedoms. OPSO receives significant funding from the City. As shown in Figure 1, the City provided $112 million, or approximately 73%, of OPSO’s total operating revenue over the past two budget cycles. The City appropriated $56 million of OPSO’s $76 million budgeted revenue for the year ended December 31, 2022 and $56 million of OPSO’s $77 million budgeted revenue for the year ended December 31, 2023.2

On March 16, 2023, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a letter concerning the Mayor’s use of a second-floor apartment unit (Mayor’s Apartment) in the Upper Pontalba Building, which is owned by the City of New Orleans (City). The letter asserted that because the French Market Corporation (FMC) does not collect fair market value rent from the current usage of the Mayor’s Apartment, this arrangement, in the case of personal use by the Mayor, gives the appearance of a donation of public property in possible violation of the Louisiana Constitution. Additionally, the Mayor’s personal use of the apartment is a possible grant of compensation in addition to the salary of the Mayor authorized by City Code and for which the City may not be making the required payroll deductions.

In light of recent events regarding possible overnight stays at the Mayor’s Apartment, the OIG requests that the City Council re-examine the ordinance passed in April 2023. As written, the ordinance does not appear to ensure that the City receives fair market value from the usage of the Mayor’s Apartment. Additionally, the ordinance lacks an enforceable definition of what qualifies as an “overnight stay”.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is authorized to comment on rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and transactions for the purpose of preventing fraud, waste, and abuse, or promoting efficient and effective government. This letter concerns the City’s use of public funds to purchase specialized tires and rims, which totaled $42,270, to replace the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tires and rims included on new police package vehicles assigned to New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Commanders.

The purchase was in possible violation of City procurement policy, as well as Louisiana Public Bid Law because it did not comply with the State contract that was used.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the City of New Orleans (City) conducted a performance audit of the Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD). The objective of the audit was to determine if OPCD credit card expenditures were business-related and allowed by law and if OPCD credit card purchases were compliant with relevant OPCD policy, laws, and other best practices.

This letter highlights the importance of enforcing the City of New Orleans (City) short-term rental regulations. This letter will also address the potential for the City to collect a significant amount of money from fines for short-term rental violations. The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) concern with the City’s ongoing short-term rental issues is primarily focused on the City’s lack of enforcement of its own short-term rental regulations. If implemented effectively, the City’s new plan to quadruple the number of City workers dedicated to short-term rental enforcement could vastly increase the number of violations brought up for administrative hearings, deterring illegal short-term rentals.

For the 12 illegal short-term rentals identified by the OIG, the auditors reviewed all nights booked for the year ending on December 31, 2022. Per the terms of the above-described ordinance, the City may be able to levy and collect a minimum fine of $500 per night, which could result in fines of at least $519,500 for the year 2022

he City of New Orleans Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a performance audit of the City of New Orleans’ (City) Department of Safety and Permits (S&P). The objective of the audit was to determine if S&P inspectors (City inspectors) conducted their inspections in accordance with S&P policies and procedures. The scope of the audit was all building, mechanical and electrical permit inspections conducted by City inspectors during the period April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020.

The audit resulted in the following major findings:

  • City inspectors did not perform in-person inspections for 20% of the inspections selected for review
  • City inspectors did not spend adequate time conducting inspections, spending ten minutes or less for 40% of the inspections reviewed.
  • City inspectors did not upload required documentation into LAMA in violation of S&P policies and procedures.

The objectives of the audit were to determine if:

  • The City and the S&WB had sufficient policies and procedures as it related to the coordination of the JIRR Program, and if those policies were effectively implemented.
  • The S&WB submitted accurate and timely data to the City to eliminate newly paved roads being torn up for pre-existing drainage repairs.
  • The S&WB repaved utility cuts timely after completing subsurface repair work.

The scope of the audit included JIRR Program projects with invoices paid for City and S&WB expenses during the period January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Auditors selected eight projects for testing, totaling $27,352,907 of invoices paid during the scope period.

BRASS is the City’s critical financial infrastructure. In 2021, the City processed approximately $1.1 billion through this procurement and accounts payable system. Because of the serious issues in the prior audit reports and the critical nature of BRASS, the OIG deemed it necessary to conduct this audit to determine if BRASS resolved those past issues and if the new internal controls were designed and implemented properly and operating effectively.

What the OIG Found:

The OIG reviewed procurement and disbursements information from July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 and found the City made significant improvements and implemented critical internal controls that operated effectively. The OIG noted:

The City implemented proper segregation of duties within BRASS. The Purchasing and Accounts Payable Departments properlyapproved the necessary procurement and disbursement documents (e.g. requisitions, purchase orders (POs), invoices, etc.) and those approvals were issued by different employees.

BRASS contained an appropriate audit trail. BRASS adequately documented when purchases were created and approved, and by whom. Contracts, POs, invoices, disbursements, and related documents were maintained in BRASS and easily accessible.
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