ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque’s Transit Department is responding to allegations of bad practices in the department. In June, a transit employee claimed co-workers were misusing the budget, using sanitizing chemicals without following OSHA policy, and that one employee was experiencing retaliation for coming forward with a complaint.
In the investigation, the Office of the Inspector General found invoices for cars and parts not used by the department, like a Dodge Charger and Chevy Impala. The OIG said employees might have been using city accounts to get better pricing and avoid paying gross receipt taxes on items for personal use. It recommended the department employees recommend all department employees be trained on purchasing procedures.
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Then, looking through emails from early in the pandemic in March 2020, the OIG found a transit manager asked an employee to get gallons of a chemical from a personal residence without a safety data sheet, per OSHA policy. According to an employee, there was no information on if the materials were hazardous while transporting the chemicals to the city transit facility. In its recommendations, the OIG said employees should follow OSHA policy.
The OIG also found there was perceived retaliation in the department. It is recommended all department supervisors should attend training to understand acceptable practices and ensure an understanding of what retaliation is.
There was also an allegation that employees were stealing tools, but the OIG could not substantiate this claim. In an emailed response, a transit spokesperson said the department is following all the recommendations outlined in the OIG report.
“The Transit Department takes these allegations seriously and is following through with solutions to the issues outlined in the Inspector General’s report. It is crucial that in order to provide much-needed transportation services to our community, we must ensure that our City assets and resources are used properly with the public’s best interests in mind,” said the spokesperson.
According to the OIG, in the last six years, there have been 36 complaints involving the transit department resulting in the OIG issuing five investigative reports with the department in focus.