Release: Procurement Delays Led to Critical Backlog at Baltimore Police Department’s Forensic Lab, Audit Finds

Crest of the City of Baltimore

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


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


Baltimore, MD - Problems in the City’s procurement process negatively impacted Baltimore Police Department (BPD) Crime Laboratory and Evidence Control’s ability to process evidence in a timely matter, according to a Department of Audits (DOA) Biennial Performance Audit presented this week to the Board of Estimates.

The audit found major procurement delays in acquiring maintenance contracts and critical laboratory products, including important DNA investigative kits, consumables and reagents. The procurement delays led to a processing backlog at BPD’s forensic laboratory; in one instance BPD had to borrow supplies from another jurisdiction to continue operations.

Through its investigation, DOA expanded the scope of the audit to include the Bureau of Procurement (BOP), which is in charge of the City’s acquisition process.

The DOA noted factors that led to the procurement delays, including: 

  • There were extensive lag times in procurement processing.
    • For example, in one instance, Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR) approved a requisition and sent it to BOP. Ten months later, the contract was approved in Citibuy by BOP. Four months later, the contract was approved in Workday, which is 14 months from the initial requisition.
  • The BOP required changes in requisition methods months after the original submission.
    • For example, in one instance, DOA found that BBMR approved a requisition for a purchase, but 12 months later, BOP determined that a master blanket contract should be issued. The BOE ended up approving the contract about 13 months after the initial requisition; only two months before grant funding was due to expire.
  • The BOP awarded a vendor that did not meet BPD’s technical requirements.
    • The DOA found that BPD submitted a requisition that required specific certifications. The BOP selected and approved a vendor that couldn’t meet the technical requirements, which forced BPD to return the product and use a procurement card.

The DOA recommended BOP follow requirements and specifications provided by BPD for procurements, fill all vacation positions as soon as possible, reassess for appropriate staffing levels to support their work, and monitor aging reports to identify outstanding items.

Recommendations to BPD include establishing formal escalation policies and procedures prioritizing critical procurements, and considering processes like multi-year contracts.

The Department of Finance, which oversees BOP, agreed with DOA’s recommendations, while pointing to issues in high staff turnover and competing priorities as factors causing delays. The BPD also agreed with the DOA’s report.

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