An audit found that some LA city departments buy, then lose, items they purchased with taxpayer funds.
Other items were unused for up to seven years, according to the audit, which was released Monday by city Controller Wendy Greuel.
The audit examined how the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Bureau of Sanitation and the Information Technology Agency track equipment purchased with taxpayer funds.
Some of the items that were never found included a video recorder purchased by ITA for almost $60,000 and two gas analyzers bought by the Bureau of Sanitation for $250,000.
Sanitation Director Enrique Zaldivar said both gas analyzers were being used at a city laboratory. He said the audit missed them because the bureau used a different system to track its equipment purchases.
ITA and Recreation and Parks had 138 items that were purchased at least one year ago, still in warehouses or staging areas. The items are worth $237,000, and some were purchased more than seven years ago.
Some of the items not placed into service included nine microwaves, a deep fryer and two television sets owned by the Recreation and Parks Department, and computer equipment owned by ITA.
"With the City facing such a large budget deficit, it’s essential that any equipment that we are able to purchase is easily located if needed and utilized immediately. It’s critical that keep tight controls on the City’s scarce resources," Greuel said in a statement. "Unfortunately we found in this case that no one was minding the store."
Of 254 items the controller tried to locate, 115 were not where they should have been. Fifty-six items were ultimately found in the wrong location. Fifty-nine, costing a total of $938,000, were unable to be located.
Overall, the audit found oversight of equipment location and use to be severely lacking.
"It's not as if we lost this material," Parks and Recreation General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri told reporters. "We bought it in advance, we staged it, (and) most of that material is in the field right now."
He conceded, however, that his sprawling department needed to do a better job of tracking its equipment purchases.
"We have 10,000 employees. We have 417 parks, so we have to do a better job," Mukri said. "My commitment to the taxpayers is we will fix this. These aren't difficult fixes -- it just takes some effort, takes some vigilance."
Greuel said the audit raised another "disturbing" concern: the city has no way of tracking equipment purchases worth less than $5,000.
"Our last major finding is that we are only able to track items that cost over $5,000 because the city does not have a consistent policy to track items that are mobile and highly susceptible to theft even if the cost is less than $5,000," she said. "There is no way of knowing how many additional items cannot be found or are sitting unopened in storage."