Inspector General questions credit card use & spending of public funds at Orleans Communications District

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 9:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans’ Inspector General says the Orleans Parish Communications District used over $7,000 in public funds on goods and services, like parties for employees and may have even violated the state constitution. Thursday, the OIG released its audit on the OCPD.

After winning a court battle to get a look at the public records of the Orleans Parish Communications District, which runs the city’s 911 call center, the Office of Inspector General made several finds regarding credit card purchases by OPCD employees.

Inspector General Ed Michel says, “About 44 percent of all credit card purchases tested during this period which was a three-year scope, totaled about $220,000 where they were not approved within OPCD policies.”

The report also finds public funds were used to pay for office Christmas parties and employee appreciation events. There was a $2,500 employee appreciation holiday. $1,400 was spent on an awards ceremony. All of those expenditures totaled over $7,700.

Reading the report, Michel comments, “$173 dollars for drinks and supplies for the crawfish boil, flower arrangements for about $261 dollars, Unity BBQ celebration for $321 dollars, there are things on this list that appeared, again, to lack a public purpose.”

OPCD Executive Director Tyrell Morris released a statement saying every single dollar spent by the agency was accounted for and necessary to execute its mission and retain its heroes.

“I also hold a Christmas party and events here at the office of OIG and so I do many of the things that he does, I just pay for that from my personal checking account. Because the law is clear, the Attorney General’s guidelines are clear, the Attorney General’s opinions are clear, you can’t use public money for personal reasons,” Michel said.

Morris says the communications district is adopting the recommendations made by the OIG, like better training for its staff. Michel tells us his office will follow up to ensure that happens.

“If they don’t enact our recommendations like they say they are, if they don’t, they’re going to have to answer for that and be accountable for any money that is misspent,” Michel commented.

We asked Tyrell Morris for an on-camera interview for this story but were told he wasn’t available.

The audit also revealed that the communications district did not follow public bid law when purchasing generator repairs and maintenance. The Inspector General also told us his office had to spend $50,000 of taxpayer money because of the court battle, fighting to view the public records that the communications district didn’t want his office to see.

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