Florida DOT OIG Investigation Leads to Conviction for Bribery

Robert Clift, Inspector General, Florida Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General reported the Florida DOT OIG and the US Department of Transportation OIG concluded an investigation which disclosed a former department right-of-way agent accepted bribes from an Orlando business for assistance in submitting false relocation and storage claims to the department.  The investigation also showed that the former employee moved the bribe money between different bank accounts in an effort to conceal the crime. Read more →

Palm Beach County Clerk IG Takes Lead Fighting Guardianship Fraud

When Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County, Sharon R. Bock created a guardianship fraud program, she knew it could have a significant impact – especially in a community with an aging population and a growing number of guardianship cases.

Sharon R. Bock, Esq., Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County

The Clerk’s guardianship fraud program, part of the Division of Inspector General, ensures greater protection of vulnerable citizens who are at risk of being exploited by guardians, caregivers and neighbors.  If necessary, a guardian is appointed by the courts and has a statutory duty to use guardianship assets for the sole benefit of the vulnerable person.  The Clerk’s Division of Inspector General conducts enhanced audits and in-depth investigations scrutinizing the county’s more than 2,755 guardianship cases.  “Never before in the Palm Beach County’s history have the most vulnerable citizens been so protected,” Clerk Bock said.

The Clerk’s IG audits, which are designed to better identify guardianship fraud and financial mismanagement, come at a critical time. Palm Beach County’s guardianship cases are estimated to increase by 15 percent, or 400 new cases, each year, as its senior citizen population continues to grow. Palm Beach County has already the second-largest population of people older than 60 in the state, and Florida has the most number of Alzheimer’s patients per capita in the U.S. Read more →

Delray Taking a Closer look at Garbage, Other City Contracts

From Sun-Sentinel 

Delray Beach is taking its trash to court.

City officials agreed last week to file a court action asking a judge to determine if a contract signed with its trash hauler can be voided.

The 4-1 decision, with Commissioner Adam Frankel dissenting, gives the city a chance to prove in court that previous city officials may have violated the city’s procurement policy when they renewed a contract with Waste Management last year without first putting it out to bid.

If the court sides with the city, it would mean the $65 million contract with Waste Management is no good, freeing the city to seek out new bids and possibly bringing garbage collection rates down by making the process competitive.

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Inspector General Slams Fort Lauderdale’s $32M Aquatic Center Contract

From South Florida Business Journal 
July 24, 2013 

Fort Lauderdale misled and confused proposers seeking to design and build the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, and did not comply with Florida law in a $32.4 million contract, according to a new report.

The Broward Office of the Inspector General states that the city was motivated to move quickly by the deterioration of the existing facility Aquatic Center, which includes the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and a push to get the project underway.

Despite what it characterizes as a “defective solicitation”, the city executed a design-build contract with the sole proposer, Recreational Design and Construction (RDC).

“Most significantly, the city agreed to a provision in the contract that shielded $1.66 million of reimbursable labor costs from audit, despite RDC’s history of double-billing the city and maintaining inadequate accounting processes,” the report states.

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Palm Beach County Pushes Ahead with Inspector General Legal Fight

From SunSentinel 
May 21, 2013 

The legal fight over how to pay for Palm Beach County‘s government watchdog will continue, county commissioners decided Tuesday, threatening to add another year and half of funding uncertainty for the inspector general’s office.

A coalition of 14 cities — including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Delray Beach — since 2011 have waged a legal fight against the county billing them to help pay for the $3.7 million budget of the voter-approved inspector general.

During the legal dispute, funding from all 38 cities has been cut off from the inspector general, creating a $1.5 million budget that Inspector General Sheryl Steckler contends leaves her understaffed and limits the investigative reach of her office.

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Palm Beach County Inspector General Gives Recommendations

From Sun-Sentinel 
April 24, 2013 

Taxpayer money wasn’t wasted and “friendship” wasn’t the reason for a no-bid, six-figure county contract, according to the doctor involved in the deal questioned by Palm Beach County’s government watchdog.

Inspector General Sheryl Steckler this week found that county Community Services Department Director Channell Wilkins “circumvented” county policies with the emergency awarding of the $118,446 contract for a nonprofit organization founded by his friend, James Rosser, to put on the Future Career Expo and Job Fair in 2010.

Steckler recommended that county officials take “appropriate personnel action.” She also suggested that the county review policies for allowing emergency contracts, instead of competitive bidding that could lower public costs.

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Office of Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Division of Inspector General Receives CFA Reaccreditation

Press Release
Clearwater, Florida 

AIG Board Member, Hector Collazo, Inspector General, Office of Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller

The Office of Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Division of Inspector General (Division), announced today that the agency has been awarded reaccreditation status by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA). The CFA is based in Orlando, Florida and reviews all aspects of an agency’s policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services to determine compliance with 40 recognized standards of excellence. Chairman Julie Jones formally presented the Certificate of Accreditation to Hector Collazo, Director/Inspector General, and Ava Jurek, CFA Accreditation Manager, on February 21, 2013. 

The CFA is an independent reviewing authority created in 1993 to establish a voluntary accreditation program. The CFA establishes standards, manages accreditation programs, and grants accreditation to Offices of Inspectors General that adhere to the established standards. The CFA’s goal is to improve agencies’ effectiveness and efficiency while performing their duties.
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Broward Inspector General Slams Hallandale for “gross mismanagement”

From the Sun-Sentinel 
March 6, 2013 

Broward’s Inspector General has found that Hallandale Beach officials “grossly mismanaged” millions of dollars in public funds “entrusted to the care of its Community Redevelopment Agency,” according to a report obtained this week by BrowardBulldog.org.

“The OIG [Office of Inspector General] investigation substantiated the allegations and uncovered numerous deficiencies in the city’s administration of the CRA,” says the 50-page preliminary report. It has not been released publicly.

 Investigators said they found at least $2.2 million in questionable CRA expenditures between 2007 and 2012, including inappropriate loans to local businesses and grants to local nonprofits — as well as the improper use of bond proceeds.
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Palm Beach County Inspector General Claims $4.3 million in Questioned Costs in 2012

From the Palm Beach Post
December 17, 2012

Citing 119 recommendations made for improvements to area governments and the identification of $4.3 million in questionable costs by some of those governments, Palm Beach County Inspector General Sheryl Steckler called the 2012 fiscal year a success for her office despite operating at just 72 percent of its budget.

The Office of Inspector General released its annual report on Friday, laying out its successes for the past year but saying that it can’t live up to its full potential until a lawsuit by 14 cities challenging payments to the office is resolved.

The 14 cities have argued that the county has no legal right to force cities to pay for the inspector general despite a majority of residents in each of the county’s 38 municipalities in 2010 voting to go under the jurisdiction of the Inspector General. The referendum said the various cities would be responsible for funding it, but the cities have argued its unconstitutional to require them to pay for it.

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Palm Beach County Audit Finds Issues with Tickets, Parking Collections at High School Sporting Events

From Palm Beach Post

The Palm Beach County school officials and volunteers responsible for millions of dollars in annual ticket sales and parking fees at high school sporting events are doing a poor job keeping track of it all, according to an investigative report from the district’s Inspector General.

While there are no allegations of missing money, the report does, however, recommend more training with regard to collection procedures. On Aug. 10, the district’s audit committee is expected to review the findings of Inspector General Lung Chiu’s draft audit.

“Most importantly, control procedures were not consistently followed at all the sample schools we visited,” Chiu wrote in the draft report. “Many of the noncompliance issues identified can be attributed to staff not following or not aware of existing procedures and guidelines.”

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