ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A City of Albuquerque employee was caught sleeping on the job and during an investigation, the Office of the Inspector General discovered that wasn’t the only problem in the department.
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It was near Coal Avenue SE and Sierra Drive SE back in September, someone noticed a City of Albuquerque employee sleeping in their city car, for hours. After a 311 complaint, the city’s Inspector General investigated the Solid Waste employee, who was supposed to be spraying and pulling weeds.
The IG’s Office used GPS and followed the city employee for three days. Instead of driving and killing weeds, the IG’s Office found the employee’s vehicle was idle anywhere from four to nearly six hours of their eight-hour shift. This happened days in a row. While the report said the employee was sometimes seen driving the herbicide around, investigators didn’t see the employee actually using it.
According to the report, from June to September, the employee wasted more than $400 in fuel for the car sitting idly. It also said he got paid nearly $3,000 for hours not actually worked.
The report said the employee admitted to sleeping while on the clock but claimed to have a medical condition and that the supervisor approved resting in the vehicle. However, in the report, the supervisor said they were aware of the employee’s medical condition but that the employee never requested to rest in the vehicle. The IG’s Office said there is not enough evidence to substantiate or disprove either claim.
The report goes on to say, “overall, the Department’s practices are significantly lacking in internal controls with policies and procedures and general oversight deficiencies which make the City susceptible to fraud, waste, and abuse.”
It gave the department nine recommendations for the Solid Waste Department which included retraining staff on policies, spot-checking to make sure herbicide was used where it should have been, and creating a dispatch system to document communication among staff.
According to the report, the city employee was reassigned and no longer operates city vehicles or equipment. It also said the Solid Waste Department is working with the employee’s union to get documentation of the medical condition and what restrictions apply to the employee.
“The Inspector General’s Office provides meaningful checks and balances for city government. We have received a copy of the IG report, and are currently going through the City’s disciplinary process,” said Solid Waste Management Director, Matthew Whelan, in an emailed statement. The Inspector General’s Office does not comment on its reports.