- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - A city watchdog report says the Chicago government lacks a centralized program to keep down the hundreds of millions of dollars it pays out each year for things like police misconduct cases and workers’ compensation claims.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson estimated Chicago paid out $457.8 million in claims in 2013 and 2014, including $203.1 million for workers’ compensation and $146.3 million for police misconduct and other public safety claims, The Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/299p15O ) reports.

Ferguson called for changes in a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chief of staff, Eileen Mitchell. According to Ferguson, the city should implement standards to identify and evaluate risk by tracking the frequency and costs of different types of claims. City workers could then be trained to avoid those issues.

Mitchell responded by pledging to create a working group with representatives of various departments to look into how to address the situation. The administration says police misconduct will be excluded from the working group’s responsibilities because of an ongoing federal investigation of the Chicago Police Department and the city’s attempts to implement recommendations from Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force.

State Finance Department spokeswoman Molly Poppe said Thursday that the city already tries to manage risk, but that the city agrees there could be benefits to ensuring risk management functions are coordinated across departments.

“Going forward, a working group comprised of departmental leaders will allow us to identify areas for improved coordination of risk management procedures citywide, further supplementing current work in departments such as employee training and safety initiatives, proactive evaluation of claims, infrastructure planning, and insurance management,” Poppe said.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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