Butkovitz Reports Library Employees Cheated City

Audit Date: December 14, 2011
Audit Categories
  • Investigation
Controller: Alan Butkovitz

Executive Summary

For Immediate Release:
December 14, 2011

Contact: Harvey Rice

Butkovitz Reports Library Employees Cheated City
City Controller criticizes Free Library for no oversight of maintenance employees
and no monitoring of assigned work projects

Click here to view report

PHILADELPHIA – In response to a local FOX TV investigation that alleged Philadelphia Free Library maintenance employees were working on projects unrelated to their jobs during assigned work hours, City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the results of his own investigation and an expanded audit of the Library’s building maintenance operations.

Entitled “Review of Building Maintenance Operations within the Free Library of Philadelphia” the investigative report found significant opportunities existed for maintenance employees to fraudulently report their work locations as well as their work time.

Butkovitz found these opportunities existed because there was no oversight of the Library’s maintenance department and its employees, including no accountability over employees’ time and work assignments. He also found there were no policies in place detailing the procedure for assigning work projects, supervising employees and reporting when specific projects were completed. There were also no established time standards for how long specific tasks should take to complete.

“Library management clearly failed to design and adopt appropriate procedures to monitor the work of its employees and supervise them,” said Butkovitz. “These conditions created opportunities for Library maintenance employees to abuse and waste time at work – as well as possibly commit fraud by working privately at the same time they were getting paid by the city.”

As part of the investigation, Controller staff used information from FOX TV’s investigation that found Library maintenance employees engaged in activities unrelated to their jobs while in active city pay status. The Controller’s staff selected a test date to account for a painter who was identified in the investigative report.

By examining Library’s records for the selected date, the painter was logged as having worked 14.5 hours, which included 6.5 hours overtime, at the Frankford Library for a project that required cleaning and repainting the ceiling of the men’s public restroom. On the same day that the painter was logged for having worked 14.5 hours for the city from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., the Fox TV news team observed the painter at his home from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 3:40 p.m. to 4:52 p.m. At 5:17 p.m., the news team videotaped the painter returning to the Library’s Center Branch.

“While Library management assigned the job to the painter, there was no indication as to how many hours were needed to complete the repair work,” said Butkovitz. “Additionally, Library management had no system for documenting whether the work was actually completed or not – and there was no evidence that spot checks were performed by supervisors.”

“This maintenance worker was allowed to cheat the city by earning pay that he did not deserve, and it was pay that he should have never received,” said Butkovitz.

The Controller also found two employees who received $17,500 in stand-by pay from July 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011 even though the City’s Civil Service Regulations prohibit the allowance of this pay category to Library employees. Stand-by time is only allowed for employees who remain available for work if an emergency occurs during their non-scheduled work hours.

“It’s completely unacceptable for a City department to operate under its own rules and not abide by the City’s regulations,” said Butkovitz. “Library management needs to cease paying ineligible employees for stand-by duty immediately.”