District of Columbia:

Metropolitan Police Department's Use of $15 Million Appropriation

AIMD-99-21: Published: Nov 13, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1998.

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Gloria L. Jarmon
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed expenditures made by the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) using $15 million appropriated by the Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 1996, focusing on: (1) whether funds have been spent according to MPD's spending plan; (2) the timeframe involved in spending the funds; and (3) whether the items purchased with the funds were received and distributed to the appropriate offices.

GAO noted that: (1) MPD used the funds consistent with their spending plan; (2) three planned and incomplete projects were deferred by the new Chief of Police in June 1998 to allow a new management team to assess law enforcement standards and accreditation requirements for these projects and decide the best method or structure to satisfy those requirements; (3) as a result of the deferrals and because certain items were obtained for less than the budgeted amounts, MPD was able, with the approval of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, to reprogram residual funds to purchase additional bulletproof vests, as well as mountain bikes and associated equipment to address the new Police Chief's summer crime initiative; (4) as of August 31, 1998, about $11.1 million had been disbursed from the District's General Fund, and contracts or purchase orders were in place for the remaining amount; (5) as of September 30, 1998, the Authority had reimbursed the District's General Fund $10.3 million from the MPD escrow account; (6) regarding the timeframe involved in spending the $15 million, the spending plan was finalized in September 1996 and the first contracts for supplies and services went to the Authority for approval in December 1996; (7) the General Services Administration provided MPD with contracting assistance for the remaining funds; (8) according to MPD officials, the loss of key management personnel delayed some of the initial expenditures; (9) in addition, the officials stated that the modernization of MPD's information technology required more time than originally anticipated--electrical problems and poor infrastructure conditions at the 57-year old headquarters building held up installation of some of the equipment ordered, resulting in further delays in spending; (10) MPD officials told GAO that the vehicles and property items purchased with the $15 million were received and distributed to the police districts and division offices; (11) however, GAO could not track MPD's inventoried items, such as patrol vehicles, motorcycles, and communication consoles, purchased with the $15 million beyond MPD's receipt because inventory information was not completely documented or updated in either the District's asset management system or MPD's inventory records; and (12) MPD stated that it was taking corrective actions to address these weaknesses in controls over inventory and asset management systems.

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