Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Office of the Ombudsman

A division of the Portland City Auditor's Office

phone: 503-823-0144

email: ombudsman@portlandoregon.gov

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 310, Portland, OR 97204

Combating Waste & Fraud

Year Bureau

Problem

Resolution

2015

Housing

A business was accused of fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars’ worth of Housing Bureau funded subcontracts under a City program designed to help businesses owned by women and minorities. Despite strong evidence that the business acted as a pass-through for a non-minority, male-owned business, state regulators declined to take action.

The Ombudsman spoke with local, state and federal law enforcement officials. The Oregon Department Justice stepped up and agreed to pursue the case. The result was a settlement of the state’s allegations under the Oregon False Claims Act, requiring the business to pay $15,000 and relinquish its state certification as a minority- and woman-owned business.

 

2013

City Attorney

 

A resident contacted the Ombudsman alleging that an expert consultant hired by the City Attorney’s Office was significantly overbilling the City.

The Ombudsman investigated and was able to partially substantiate the allegations, finding clear instances of overbilling. In response to the Ombudsman’s recommendations, the City Attorney’s Office challenged certain billing items and recovered thousands of dollars that the City had overpaid to the consultant. The City Attorney’s Office also accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendation to add standard provisions to its expert consultant contracts that required itemized billing and created a mechanism for addressing disputed billed amounts.

2012

Procurement Services

A resident made an anonymous report alleging that the Procurement Services’ Sheltered Market Program paid a former City contractor thousands of dollars for consulting services it never rendered.

The Ombudsman investigated. Finding support for the allegations, the Ombudsman referred the matter to law enforcement for possible prosecution. The former City contractor later settled with the City, agreeing to return approximately $17,000 and to never again seek to contract with or work for the City.

Based on the Ombudsman’s recommendations, Procurement Services instituted a two-step invoice approval process requiring the actual receipt of goods prior to payment and requiring a supervisor to sign off on an invoice before payment to vendor can occur.