‘A mess’: Audit finds repair agency for DC needs supervision, oversight, transparency

The chairman of the D.C. Council fired off a letter last April asking the District’s watchdog, the Office of the D.C. Auditor, to take a look at why many repairs do not seem to get done or completed in a timely fashion in the city, including several schools.

Now Phil Mendelson said the results are in and a lot of money is being wasted by the Department of General Services.

“What the report confirms is that the central component of any good maintenance system, which is work orders, is a mess.” Mendelson said, stating that millions were being wasted.

A news release summarizing the report said the auditors made clear that DGS has tools it is not using.

“More and better supervision, ensuring independent oversight of the work, and better transparency with government clients, are all recommendations the audit team makes to improve DGS’ handling of building maintenance,” D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson said.

In some work orders, before and after photos were not the actual project, but instead were stock images found on the internet.

“Stupid is what occurs to me. I mean why would one do that?” Mendelson said, adding that the council will continue to do its job and put on pressure for improvement. But Mendelson said there’s another person who bears some responsibility.

“The mayor’s responsible for how the executive branch agencies do their work,” he said.

According to the report, the audit team documented shortcomings in the agency, including issues with cost data, completion dates, preventive maintenance and supporting documents to justify repair expenses.

Last month, a new bill was proposed to the council that would require the D.C. Department of General Services to get approval from a school principal, foreman or other school employee before a work order ticket can be closed. The legislation was the result of repairs not getting finished because of miscommunication, or because city agencies aren’t clear on who’s responsible for certain jobs, prompting work orders to be closed prematurely.

WTOP has reached out for comment to the Department of General Services, which is tasked with repairs.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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