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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

Fraud Hotline investigation finds waste, mismanagement in Parks & Recreation

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Portlanders care deeply about keeping their government accountable. But let’s face it — the City is susceptible to mismanagement, wasteful practices and, at its worst, outright fraud.

One way the Auditor’s Office fights against that behavior is with our Fraud Hotline. The Hotline allows the public, City employees, and contractors to confidentially report fraud, waste, and abuse of position.

Investigators in the Auditor’s Office review every tip and pursue investigations when warranted. In cases where we find evidence of fraud, waste, or abuse of position, we issue a report to City Council and the public.

The Auditor’s Office has had a tip line since 2010, but we revamped its purpose last year to focus on fraud. We posted flyers in City work spaces and featured a link to the online reporting system on my website. The higher profile resulted in several tips, and we published the results of our first completed investigation Feb. 19, 2020. Find the report here

The investigation found that Portland Parks & Recreation mismanaged the work of a retired municipal golf courses director who it rehired for additional work. We found the retired director worked nearly double the hours allowed by a written agreement that governed his “working retirement.” The additional work caused extra payments totaling more than $25,000.

We also found there wasn’t a justification to rehire the director as a working retiree, that planned work either wasn’t completed or was done poorly, and that the retiree had no supervision.

There were also a host of rules violations. No one approved the retired director’s timesheets. Human resources rules were broken by placing the retiree and new director into the same position without a justification. The retiree worked offsite without approval, and likely broke City technology use rules by using his City email account to send more than 100 emails to Craigslist vendors for what appeared to be personal business.

My office made six recommendations to Portland Parks & Recreation to prevent this waste from happening again. The Bureau did not agree to undertake all of them.

We are grateful to tipsters who use the Fraud Hotline to notify us of possible wrongdoing. If you know of fraud, waste, or abuse of position in the City of Portland or with its contractors, make sure we do too, because the best way to call it out is to call it in. Visit www.PortlandFraudHotline.com or call 866-342-4148 to make a confidential tip.

City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero