Vendor audits show history of billing discrepancies

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The city says it needs to tighten up the way it monitors what contractors are charging its departments. This comes after another audit showed a company is overcharging the city for work.

A list of vendor audits over the years shows a history of billing issues.

“There should be a taxpayer concern,” Director of Finance Renee Martinez said. “Anybody should be concerned if the city is not paying their invoices accurately and we understand that.”

Those invoices are for the many vendors the city contracts for services, ranging from maintaining HVAC systems to installing street lights. In fact, in seven of the eight vendor audits done since 2016, the city found it had been overbilled, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars.

“We’re always concerned if we see a lot of variance,” Martinez stated.

In last month’s audit of Trane, which does on-call HVAC services, it found labor and trip cost overages totaling more than $23,000 over two years.

“They charged us for a licensed professional when an unlicensed professional actually did the work,” Martinez explained.

Another audit this year for a vendor providing automotive parts for various departments found the company overcharged the city to the tune of more than $14,000 over a two-year period.

“The discrepancies are not enough so that we’re going to be over budget for a particular department or program just because of the numbers themselves,” Martinez said.

Martinez doesn’t believe the vendors are overcharging the city on purpose, chalking it up to sloppy bookkeeping by contractors and the city. She said moving forward, some departments will get more training and software updates to help staff catch these mistakes.

The city is also asking the vendors for help addressing these problems. Martinez said they asked Trane to specify whether they are charging for a licensed or unlicensed worker.

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