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Audit: LA Wasted $1M On City-Issued Cell Phones

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Amid falling revenue and a yawning budget gap, the city of Los Angeles wasted an estimated $1 million on cell phone costs for public employees, according to an audit released on Wednesday.

City Controller Wendy Greuel told KNX 1070 the audit revealed a total lack of data on just how many cell phones and smart phones were issued across various city departments.

“We found out that we didn’t have a number of how many cell phones we even had in the city of Los Angeles,” Greuel said. “There was no one in charge or minding the store.”

The audit reviewed seven city departments with contracts for over 11,800 cell phones, including proprietaries such as the Dept. of Water & Power, which had the most city-issued phones at 3,971.

After the DWP, the Los Angeles Police Department had the most phones at 1,525, followed by L.A. World Airports (872), the L.A. Fire Department (798), the General Services Department (580), and the Department of Building and Safety (494).

“We found at a minimum that we could have saved $1 million by just managing the existing contracts that we have, being sure people were not abusing the system,” Greuel said.

Departments controlled by City Council members provided an estimated 6,500 cell phones to employees at a cost of $4.8 million in 2010.

Greuel said there were also approximately 550 phones that were simply being held and not used at a cost of “thousands of dollars”.

The audit is ultimately aimed at offering the city a roadmap towards increased savings and stronger oversight, but Greuel says the sacrifices must first being at City Hall.

“I gave away my cell phone,” Greuel said. “I have just a personal cell phone, my plan allows me to have unlimited calls and texts and I can do that without having the city have to pay a dime.”

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