- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The D.C. public school system does not sufficiently oversee its overtime payments, which totaled more than $12 million in fiscal 2004 and 2005, according to a government audit released yesterday.

For example, a pair of custodians who were assigned to clean school bus terminals received more than $96,000 in overtime pay. But terminal managers said they often had to take out the trash and replace bathroom supplies, the audit states.

“We found that despite the excessive amount of overtime funds spent, the terminals were not properly cleaned,” city auditors say in their report.

What’s more, a group of 12 custodians, boiler-plant operators and mechanics received nearly $450,000 in overtime in 2004 — more than $37,000 apiece, on average.

In addition, school officials cannot justify how overtime is earned, having doled out overtime pay to workers who were on leave or holiday, the D.C. Office of Inspector General reported.

The school system “did not have adequate internal controls for processing overtime pay, and sufficient management oversight was not exercised to ensure that processing overtime was effective and efficient,” the audit concludes.

The audit was released yesterday by Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby.

Schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, in a response to the audit, said the school system takes it “very seriously and is committed to the resolution of those findings.”

The audit, which does not identify workers by name, found that custodians, boiler-plant operators and industrial mechanics were among the school-system workers earning the most overtime pay.

A review of pay records for five custodians, two boiler-plant operators, one mechanic and four motor-vehicle operators found that the 12 workers earned $448,753 in overtime in 2004.

The audit also notes lax overtime controls in the school system’s transportation division, which is under the control of a court-appointed administrator.

From 2003 to 2005, the two custodians who cleaned floors in bus terminals earned a combined $96,389 in overtime for what was billed as “Project Cleaning.”

“Transportation officials signed overtime request forms totaling more than $96,000 although they never observed work being done,” auditors wrote.

The terminal managers told the auditors that the two custodians “did not significantly assist” in keeping terminals clean.

Moreover, the audit found that documentation was often missing in the school system’s payroll office to justify overtime pay.

“Our review of the file storage area found file boxes of records with no covers, and some boxes were broken, left open or were incorrectly labeled,” auditors wrote.

When auditors asked school officials to provide them with a payroll policy manual, the Inspector General’s Office received a document dated September 1973 that “in addition to being outdated … is not applicable to the payroll system currently in use,” the audit found.

In a written response to Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Janey said the school system is implementing new policies for overtime approval, including a recently completed payroll audit.

“It is a priority of Janey to revamp our human resources and payroll process,” D.C. schools spokeswoman Roxanne Evans said yesterday. “He has automated our procurement process, and so the whole human resources and payroll function is the next big one he is tackling.”

Mr. Janey was named superintendent in August 2004.

In a written response to Mr. Willoughby, the transportation division, under court-appointed administrator David Gilmore, noted that the special cleaning project noted in the audit predated Mr. Gilmore’s tenure.

The response states that the custodians’ overtime was paid to Office of Facilities Management (OFM) employees.

“As such, OFM management is responsible for … documenting the justification for all overtime expenditures,” the response states.

Mr. Gilmore also disputed that the transportation division lacked clear policies on the use of overtime, saying managers provide written justification.

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