Release: Audit Finds Problems with Public Information Act Requests and Minority & Women’s Business Contract Compliance

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Bill Henry
Comptroller,
Baltimore City
204 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-5410

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Geoff Shannon, Public Relations Officer
(410) 387-5704

geoff.shannon@baltimorecity.gov

 

Baltimore, MD – City Auditor Josh Pasch presented a biennial performance audit of the Baltimore City Department of Law (DOL) at this morning's Board of Estimates (BOE) meeting.

Looking at fiscal years 2021 and 2020, the Department of Audits (DOA) audit evaluated:

  1. Prior findings and recommendations from the previous Biennial Performance Audit Report.
  2. The DOL’s monitoring of compliance with goals of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE).

Prior findings  - Repeat Issues with Public Information Act Requests

The DOA found that “the City does not have a performance metric that measures the efficiency of the PIA process. The performance metric, which was reviewed in the previous audit, is for the DOL, which measures the DOL’s efficiency in relation to PIA requests. The DOL is measuring the percent of PIA requests answered in a timely manner by tracking the time when DOL receives requests from agencies for DOL’s consultation and the time when DOL responds to agencies or information requestors. Therefore, this measurement is a portion of the overall PIA process and does not measure whether the City, as a whole, is in compliance with the PIA requirements.”

For the second consecutive audit report on the DOL (previous one was for fiscal years 2019 and 2018), the DOA found the City had not developed and implemented overarching guidance to provide consistency and oversight of PIA requests. Instead, a pilot program for tracking PIAs centrally began in August 2022, after the first audit report publicly reported the issue in December 2020 and after this biennial performance report began in July 2022. Importantly, the pilot program is managed by the Mayor’s Chief Data Officer, not the Law Department.

“Trying to address previous findings halfway through an audit report isn’t an adequate way to respond to a finding – what it shows me is that agencies aren’t taking recommendations seriously. We need to do the right thing and comply with the law even if it isn’t easy,” said Comptroller Bill Henry. “From what my office has researched, every other City uses their law department as the conduit for PIA requests. Pushing this responsibility off onto other agencies, is not the best long-term strategy.”

Department of Law’s monitoring of compliance with goals of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE)

The DOA found the following:

  1. The Minority & Women’s Business Opportunity Office (MWBOO) does not proactively track and monitor the achievement status of contracts with MBE/WBE participation goals. Instead MWBOO determines compliance when BOE action is requested (i.e. additional funds, additional times, new contract, etc.)
  2. There is no Citywide monitoring of MWBOO compliance for all City contracts. Instead, City agencies are responsible for tracking their agency’s contract compliance and submitting those reports to MWBOO.

The City auditor recommended the MWBOO Chief establish and implement processes to track goal compliance and enforce contracting agencies to maintain and submit up-to-date information on compliance with goals.

In response to the recommendations, the MWBOO chief submitted an action plan:

  1. Implement contract compliance module B2G once Workday allows (for finding I).
    1. B2G was implemented in August 2022.
  2. MWBOO will conduct a second agency training on compliance and project management (for findings II).

“I want to thank Chief Lundy and his staff for working diligently with our auditors and responding with a detailed action plan,” Comptroller Henry said. “I look forward to Workday enabling full contract compliance to occur as soon as possible.”

The audit report can be found on the Department of Audits' website.

Background

The DOA is the City's independent auditor, providing various audits, attestation engagements, and assurance services with the overall goal of improving government accountability. The DOA is part of the Office of the Baltimore City Comptroller.

The DOA, pursuant to Article V § 11, performs biennial audits of agencies. In 2022, this includes the Baltimore Police Department, the Health Department, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Planning, Department of Transportation, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development and the Baltimore City Information & Technology.

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