Chicago aviation officials wasted at least $171,000 on GPS-capable cell
phone service that didn’t work inside terminals at O’Hare International
Airport and on vehicle-tracking technology that was hardly ever used,
the city’s inspector general reported Thursday.
The probe covered
2008 through 2010, over the terms of three commissioners at the Chicago
Department of Aviation, according to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
The bulk of the failure to exercise proper oversight of the
electronic equipment happened under the watch of Rosemarie Andolino, the
current aviation commissioner who Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed in
Andolino agreed with the inspector general’s findings
and disconnected global-positioning system service for 122 department
cell phones and 13 vehicles in the fall of 2011, Ferguson said.
$171,000 misspent on little-used GPS-related contracts does not include
bills extending into 2011 because the inspector general’s review ended
in 2010, said Jonathan Davey, spokesman for Ferguson. “The $171,000
represents the floor, not the ceiling,’’ Davey said.
In 2006 and 2007, the department purchased 155 GPS-capable cell phones and installed GPS locators on 53 vehicles.
aviation department spent an estimated $248,000 on GPS tracking
services for cell phones and vehicles between 2008 and 2010, the report
said. Almost 70 percent of the GPS-capable equipment reviewed by the
inspector general – 105 cell phones and 34 vehicles – never used the GPS
services, leading to the waste.
The department “never used the
vast majority of its GPS equipment because the technology did not work
in airport terminals and did not meet the (department’s) needs, yet the
(department) continued to pay for these GPS services,’’ Ferguson’s
“In addition to the GPS function going unused, there
were no records showing the phone itself had ever been used,’’ the
Andolino agreed to implement a series of
recommendations made by Ferguson that include effectively using GPS
technology, complying with the city’s mobile communications and GPS
policies and ensuring that aviation department employees are held
accountable for the technology that is assigned to them.
Ferguson stopped short of recommending disciplinary action.