OIG report: To prevent theft, the New Orleans fuel dispensing program needs an overhaul

OIG report: To prevent theft, the New Orleans fuel dispensing program needs an overhaul

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - After detecting potential waste and theft, the City of New Orleans should make changes to the its gas card program to strengthen oversight and prevent theft, according to a new report released by the Office of the Inspector General.

The report found the city does not have a system in place to accurately track employee fuel usage. The report found little oversight of the program and concluded that policies currently in place are ineffective and not enforced.

The OIG report says 33 departments and agencies spent $3.2 million on fuel last year. The report says employees shared fuel cards, and pin numbers.

The report also found there is no mechanism available to deactivate the cards for former city employees.
"it probably was working to some degree prior to Katrina," said Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. "After Katrina it obviously fell on hard times and they were having problems.

Quatrevaux said the city tried to fix parts of the program of the past couple of years, but cooperation from individual departments was lacking.

The report recommends the city re-issue all fuel cards and pins so they can be better tracked.

The report recommendations also call for odometer readings and a limit on how much fuel an employee can use.

Key findings in the report include:

  • The OIG also found that fuel reports were not adequately reviewed to identify suspicious transactions.
  • Fuel users shared fuel cards, and there was no effective process for identifying and deactivating inactive fuel cards.
  • Fuel users shared PINs, and the City did not reliably identify and deactivate PINs belonging to fuel users no longer employed by their agency or department.
  • The City did not use settings in the fuel system designed to (1) alert vehicle coordinators if users entered inaccurate odometer readings or (2) restrict the number of gallons that could be dispensed from the automated fueling system during a single transaction.
  • Vehicle coordinators did not properly review fuel dispensing reports to identify suspicious transactions.
  • The City did not effectively monitor fuel use at its non-automated fueling locations.

The report highlighted two instances where a questionable transactions were not flagged because of a lack of oversight.

In the first case, inspectors found a fuel card in an unlocked NOPD car awaiting repairs. The car was in an unsecured parking lot with the fuel card in the console of the car. The card was in an envelope that had the PIN number written on it the outside.

To test the effectiveness of city fuel dispensing controls, the card and PIN were used to obtain fuel at the city's Broad Street fuel facility.

An odometer reading of '999,999' to make sure the transaction was noted as an exception on the report sent to the NOPD fleet manager.

The transaction was not identified as suspicious or investigated by city officials.

In the second highlighted case, a fuel card assigned to one NOPD patrol vehicle was used to obtain 3,218  gallons of fuel without valid odometer readings.

The report found 65 percent of the fuel transactions attributed to the vehicle had questionable odometer information.

It appeared that the card was shared among vehicles because fuel users entered illogical odometer readings and it was used several times in a single day.

In many cases no attempt was made to enter accurate odometer information. In some cases, a series of repeated numbers or impossible readings such as 22,222 or 5 were entered.

On September 24, 2015 the fuel card was used nine times within a one minute period. In that one minute period, none of the odometer entries were within a reasonable range of the previous entry.

The city has signed off on the recommendations.

Read the full report:

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