oversight

District of Columbia: Private Use of Official Vehicles

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-04-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States General Accounting Office

GAO             Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                on the District of Columbia, Committee
                on Appropriations, House of
                Representatives

April 1999
                DISTRICT OF
                COLUMBIA
                Private Use of
                Official Vehicles




GAO/GGD-99-50
GAO   United States
      General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      General Government Division



      B-281973

      April 9, 1999

      The Honorable Ernest J. Istook
      Chairman, Subcommittee on the
      District of Columbia
      Committee on Appropriations
      House of Representatives

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

      This letter responds to the April 30, 1998, request of the Subcommittee on
      the District of Columbia, Committee on Appropriations, for information on
      the status of the District of Columbia government’s compliance with
      section 150(a)(1) of Public Law 105-100—the District of Columbia
      Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1998, which was approved on
                                                                   1
      November 19, 1997—and any violations of this provision. Under this
      provision, funds made available by this appropriations act or any other act
      may not be used to provide an officer or employee of the District with an
      official vehicle unless it will be used only in the performance of official
             2
      duties. Section 150(a)(1) also provides that except for police officers who
      reside in the District, the term “official duties” does not include travel
      between the officer’s or employee’s residence and workplace.

      As agreed with the Subcommittee, the objectives of this review were to
      determine (1) whether any District employees were authorized, as of
      September 1998, to take home official vehicles and (2) if so, whether these
      employees were aware of the statutory restriction on using District
      government vehicles for other than official business, including home-to-
      work transportation. To accomplish these objectives, we sent a
      questionnaire in September 1998 to or interviewed the heads of 46 District
      entities asking them if anyone in their entity was authorized to take home
      an official vehicle and, if so, who these individuals were and why were
      they authorized to take home vehicles. These entities were identified in the
      District of Columbia Public Vehicle Report, as of September 30, 1997, as




      1
       With minor modifications, the restriction contained in section 150(a)(1) of Public Law 105-100 was
      continued in the District’s fiscal year 1999 appropriations act.
      2
      Funds made available by the District’s fiscal year 1998 appropriations act include money appropriated
      by Congress; local money, such as District tax revenue; and other money, such as school tuition.




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                                                                    3
                   having vehicles under their control. Appendix I contains a list of the 46
                   entities. In addition, we sent a questionnaire to 22 judgmentally selected
                   individuals listed in the District’s Public Vehicle Report as having been
                   authorized to take home vehicles as of September 30, 1997, asking them if
                   they had been informed of the restriction and, if so, how this information
                   was conveyed to them.

                   All of the 46 District entities reported to have vehicles as of September 30,
Results in Brief   1997, now report compliance with the prohibition against using
                   appropriated funds for government vehicles taken home by employees. In
                   response to our September 1998 questionnaire to or interviews with the 46
                   District entities that had vehicles under their control, 37 entities reported
                   that they did not authorize anyone to take home a public vehicle. The
                   remaining 9 entities reported that 44 employees were authorized to take
                   home a public vehicle. Subsequently, 8 of the 9 entities told us that 21
                   employees who were still authorized as of September 1998 to take home
                   public vehicles were no longer doing so. The other entity, the District of
                   Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA), which had 23 employees authorized
                   to take home public vehicles, plans to comply with the law by funding the
                   cost of vehicles that are taken home with nonappropriated funds. We
                   concur that the statutory restriction does not prohibit DCHA from
                   spending its nonappropriated funds on vehicles that are taken home.

                   We also contacted the 10 entities identified in the District’s Public Vehicle
                   Report as allowing vehicles to be taken home as of September 30, 1997,
                   about steps they had taken to inform their affected employees of the
                   restriction on this practice. Officials at these 10 entities said that they had
                   notified their staff of the change in the law. Twenty-one of the 22 District
                   employees we contacted who were authorized to take home vehicles as of
                   September 30, 1997, were aware of the restriction. The remaining
                   employee said that his entity had not notified him of the change in policy,
                   but when he became aware of it from our survey, he stopped taking home
                   a vehicle.

                   On November 19, 1997, Congress passed Public Law 105-100, the District
Background         of Columbia Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1998. Section 150(a)(1) of
                   the law states the following:



                   3
                     One agency, the District of Columbia Sports Commission, was not listed in the report. Another entity,
                   the Department of Health, was not in existence at the time of the report. Both of these entities were
                   covered in our review. Another entity listed in the report was not included in our review. This entity,
                   the Civilian Complaint Review Board, no longer exists.




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“None of the funds made available by this Act or by any other Act may be used to provide
any officer or employee of the District of Columbia with an official vehicle unless the
officer or employee uses the vehicle only in the performance of the officer’s or employee’s
official duties. For purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘official duties’ does not include
travel between the officer’s or employee’s residence and workplace (except in the case of a
police officer who resides in the District of Columbia).”

In addition, section 150(a)(2) of the law required the District’s Chief
Financial Officer to submit an inventory by December 15, 1997, of all the
vehicles that were owned; leased; or operated by the District government
as of September 30, 1997. This inventory was to indicate, among other
things, whether a vehicle was allowed to be taken home by a District
officer or employee and, if so, the officer’s or employee’s title and place of
residence.

The Public Vehicle Report, which was submitted to Congress on December
15, 1997, stated that as of September 30, 1997, District officials or
employees were authorized to take home 321 of the 5,750 vehicles that
were owned or leased by the District government. The report noted that
these authorizations were generally limited to entity directors and those
public safety personnel needing to respond immediately to emergencies
and life-threatening situations.

The report also stated that employees had been authorized to take home
vehicles under Mayor’s Order 94-38, Vehicle Utilization Policy, dated
February 18, 1994. The general policy set forth in this order was that unless
the mayor or city administrator designated otherwise, the use of District
vehicles was to relate to official District business and work activities; all
other uses were prohibited. The order allowed agency heads or their
designees to designate take-home vehicles within their agency. It defined a
“designated take-home” vehicle as a passenger vehicle assigned to a
specific employee who was permitted to take home a vehicle during off-
duty hours to provide 24-hour contact and emergency response for
governmental purposes during times other than normal working hours.
Use of these vehicles for nonofficial purposes was strictly prohibited.
Agency heads were authorized to approve take-home assignments when
they deemed that overnight availability of the vehicle was in the best
interest of the District, and that the task(s) to be done during off-duty
hours required immediate travel to a job location.

On February 6, 1998, the Chairman of the District of Columbia Financial
Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (the Authority) wrote
to the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, House
Committee on Appropriations, requesting a legislative modification to



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                                                           4
section 150(a) at the earliest opportunity. The Authority Chairman
requested an exception to the restriction for the public safety entities of
the District—the Metropolitan Police Department, the Fire and Emergency
Medical Services Department, and the Department of Corrections—whose
officials and employees must respond to emergency situations during
nonduty hours.

The Authority Chairman also sought exceptions for other entities that
would have to meet one of two criteria that he outlined in his letter. These
criteria were as follows: (1) the employee is subject to after-hours recall in
emergency situations on an average of at least six times per month or (2)
the employee must respond to after-hours emergency calls at field
locations with specialized equipment. These latter employees included, but
were not limited to, those requiring special communications equipment;
weapons; and specially trained animals. Finally, the Authority Chairman
asked that section 150(a) be amended to enable him to permit exceptions
on a case-by-case basis.

On March 18, 1998, the Subcommittee Chairman responded to the
Authority Chairman’s letter advising him that although statutory
amendments to modify the act would be considered in connection with the
District’s 1999 appropriations act, neither a congressional committee nor
the Authority are authorized to allow the expenditure of funds prohibited
by statutory language. Although the restriction on the use of official
vehicles was included in the District’s fiscal year 1999 appropriations act,
it was modified to allow the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department
to designate police employees living outside of the District to take home
vehicles.

Prior to our work beginning, nine entities that authorized take home
vehicles, as of September 30, 1997, had rescinded authorizations for their
employees to take home a vehicle between November 1997 and March
1998. Three of these nine entities withdrew the authorizations in two steps.
Most of the total authorizations for the police, fire, and correction
                                                                   5
departments were rescinded in November and December, 1997. However,

4
 As a result of the District’s financial crisis in 1994, Congress established the District of Columbia
Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, consisting of five board members who
were appointed by the President, to oversee District operations. The Authority was to eliminate budget
deficits and cash shortages of the District, ensure the most efficient and effective delivery of services,
and conduct necessary investigations and studies to determine the fiscal status and operational
efficiency of the District.
5
 The police withdrew the authorizations for those individuals not living in the District. As of June 1998,
the police had 110 police officers living in the District who were authorized to take home vehicles.




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              the police, fire, and correction departments did not withdraw
              authorizations for 18, 6, and 15 individuals, respectively, until as late as
              February or March, 1998. Of the other six entities, three rescinded
              authorizations in November 1997, two in December 1997, and one in
              February 1998.

              Appendix II, table II.1, shows these nine entities, the estimated number of
              employees in each entity who were authorized to take home a vehicle after
              the passage of the law, and the dates on which the entities withdrew
              authorizations. The basic reason provided by the police, fire, and
              corrections department officials for the delay in rescinding all of the
              authorizations was that there had been some confusion in the entities
              since the law passed about whether the law applied in all situations and
              whether exceptions could be granted.

              To determine whether District employees had been authorized to take
Scope and     home official vehicles, we sent a questionnaire in September 1998 to or
Methodology   interviewed the heads of 46 District entities. We asked them if anyone in
              their entity was authorized to take home a vehicle; if the answer was yes,
              we requested the names of the individuals and the reasons for the
              authorization. In addition, we contacted the Authority and the new Office
              of the Chief Management Officer to determine if either had been assigned
              any vehicles; neither had been.

              To determine what actions the entities had taken in fiscal year 1998 to
              inform their employees of the new restriction on taking home official
              vehicles, we interviewed District officials at the 10 entities that the District
              reported had authorized vehicles to be taken home as of September 30,
              1997. These entities were the Metropolitan Police Department, the
              Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, the
              Department of Public Works, the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency
              Medical Services Department, the Department of Consumer and
              Regulatory Affairs, the District of Columbia Public Schools, the
              Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of
              Administrative Services, and the Office of the City Administrator. We also
              included the new Department of Health because several positions
              transferred to it had authority to take home vehicles in fiscal year 1997.

              We also contacted individuals who had been authorized as of September
              30, 1997, to take home official vehicles to determine if they knew about the
              change in the law. We judgmentally selected a sample of 22 individuals
              from the 321 individuals listed in the District’s 1997 Public Vehicle Report.
              From the 10 entities that were reported as having authorized vehicles to be



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                         taken home at the end of fiscal year 1997, we selected 1 employee from
                         each of 5 entities, 2 employees from each of 3 entities, and 11 Police
                                                            th
                         Department employees. For the 10 entity, the 1 employee authorized to
                         take home a vehicle no longer worked for the agency. The number of
                         employees selected was based on the number of employees reported as
                         being authorized by each entity to take home a vehicle. For example, the
                         entities with only 1 person selected had from 1 to 4 individuals authorized
                         to take home a vehicle whereas the Police Department, which had 11
                         persons selected, had 232 individuals authorized to take home a vehicle.
                         We sent each of the selected employees a questionnaire asking if the
                         employee was aware of the statutory restriction on taking government
                         vehicles home and, if so, how he or she learned about the law and when
                         they had last taken home a vehicle. All 22 individuals responded to the
                         questionnaire. Due to the size and nature of the sample, these responses
                         cannot be statistically projected.

                         In conducting our review, we did not independently verify the responses to
                         the questionnaire. Also, as agreed with the Subcommittee, we did not
                         attempt to determine whether any District employees were taking home
                         official vehicles without proper authorization. Lastly, we did not attempt to
                         determine if an entity was funding the use of a vehicle by some other
                         means, such as a provision of a vehicle allowance.

                         We did our work in Washington, D.C., between June 1998 and February
                         1999 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
                         standards. We requested comments on a draft of this report from the
                         Mayor of the District of Columbia, the City Council Chairman, the
                         Authority Chairman, the Interim Chief Financial Officer, and eight of the
                         nine entities that had not withdrawn authorizations for individuals to take
                         home official vehicles as of September 1998. At one entity, the Taxicab
                         Commission, we did not seek comments because the Taxicab Chairman
                         who had been violating the law had left the entity, and he was the only
                         individual we had talked to at the Commission.

                         In response to our September 1998 questionnaire or interviews, the
Nine Entities Were Not   majority of the entities (37 of 46) reported practices that were in
in Compliance With the   compliance with the restriction in section 150(a)(1). Thirty-six entities
Law As of September      reported that as of September 1998, no one was authorized to take home a
                                         th
                         vehicle. The 37 entity, the Metropolitan Police Department, reported that
1998                     as of June 9, 1998, 110 officers—all District residents—were authorized to
                         take home vehicles, a practice that is allowed under section 150(a)(1), and




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                                          that no employees living outside of the District had been authorized to do
                                              6
                                          so.

                                          The remaining 9 entities—DCHA, the Water and Sewer Authority (WASA),
                                          the Office of Corporation Counsel, the Council of the District of Columbia,
                                          the District of Columbia Public Schools, the Public Service Commission,
                                          the District of Columbia Sports Commission, the Taxicab Commission, and
                                          the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)—reported that as of
                                          September 1998, 44 employees were authorized to take home vehicles and
                                          had done so at various times during the year. Although each entity
                                          presented various reasons for allowing the employees to take home
                                          vehicles, we determined that the nine entities had not complied with the
                                          restriction in section 150(a)(1). Appendix II, table II.2, shows these nine
                                          entities, the title and location of residence of the employees who were
                                          authorized to take home a vehicle, and the authorizing official.

                                          Officials from the nine entities that were not in compliance with the
The Nine Entities Now                     statute as of September 1998 informed us that they would comply. Eight of
Report That They Will                     the entities said that their employees were no longer authorized to take
Comply With Law                           home a vehicle as of February 1999. The other entity plans to comply with
                                          the law by funding the cost of vehicles that are taken home with
                                          nonappropriated funds. Table 1 shows the number of employees at these
                                          nine entities, by entity, who were authorized to take home vehicles.

Table 1: Number of Employees, by
District Entity, Who Were Authorized to                                                                                            Number of
Take Home Vehicles as of September        District entities                                                                        employees
1998                                      Housing Authority                                                                               23
                                          Water and Sewer Authority                                                                        9
                                          Office of Corporation Counsel                                                                    6
                                          Council of the District of Columbia                                                              1
                                          District of Columbia Public Schools                                                              1
                                          Public Service Commission                                                                        1
                                          Sports Commission                                                                                1
                                          Taxicab Commission                                                                               1
                                          University of the District of Columbia                                                           1
                                          Total employees authorized                                                                      44
                                          Sources: Officials of entities listed.




                                          6
                                           An officer who had been paralyzed in the line of duty by another officer was granted permission by the
                                          Police Chief in August 1998 to use a van that had been purchased and modified to meet her needs. The
                                          van was made available to her so that she could go to and from therapy sessions as well as for other
                                          purposes connected with her efforts to recover from her injuries. The District’s appropriations act for
                                          fiscal year 1999 authorized the van to be donated to the officer as a gift on behalf of the District.




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The nine entities provided the following reasons for originally allowing
employees to take home vehicles:

• DCHA: Twenty-three employees were authorized to take home an
  official vehicle. DCHA officials told us that they believed the law did not
  apply to DCHA because it is independent of the District government and
  does not receive funding through the District’s appropriations process.
  While we agree that DCHA is an independent entity not subject to the
  Mayor’s authority, it is an instrumentality of the District government and
  receives appropriated funds from the Department of Housing and Urban
  Development. Therefore, we believe that DCHA is subject to the
  appropriations restriction in section 150(a)(1). After discussing this
  issue with DCHA officials, they agreed. In the future, they said that they
  would comply with the law by funding the cost of vehicles that are taken
  home by using nonappropriated funds. We do not believe the restriction
  in section 150(a)(1), which applies to appropriated funds, prohibits
  DCHA from spending nonappropriated funds to pay for the entire cost
  associated with vehicles that are taken home. DCHA officials have told
  us that the funds that will be used to pay for these vehicles will come
  from DCHA’s local funds account, which is derived entirely from
  nonappropriated fund sources, such as rental income, investment
  income, and antenna leases.

• WASA: Nine employees were authorized to take home official vehicles,
  on the basis of the needs of the entity. Three employees—the General
  Manager, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Engineer—had contracts
  that allowed them to use an official vehicle and required that they
  reimburse WASA for personal use of the vehicle. These contracts were
  signed before the law restricting the use of official vehicles had passed.
  The General Manager authorized the other six employees to take home
  vehicles on the basis of their duties and responsibilities. Each
  authorization was reconsidered annually. According to the General
  Manager, WASA did not believe that vehicle restrictions applied to it,
  primarily because of WASA’s independence from the District
  government. After discussions with us, in which we told him of our view
  that WASA’s employees were employees of the District, the General
  Manager agreed to stop allowing public vehicles to be taken home.

• Office of Corporation Counsel: The Corporation Counsel reported that
  six employees were authorized to take home vehicles on an as-needed
  basis. These employees were to use the vehicles to serve legal
  documents, such as subpoenas, summonses, and contempt motions,
  outside of regular business hours when attempts during the day were



Page 8                               GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
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  unsuccessful. The Principal Deputy Corporation Counsel, responding on
  behalf of the office, told us that these employees were inadvertently not
  informed of the fiscal year 1998 change in the law on taking home
  official vehicles. After receiving our questionnaire on this issue, the
  employees were informed of the change in the law and their
  authorizations to take home a vehicle were withdrawn.

• Council of the District of Columbia: The Council Chairman was
  authorized to take home a vehicle. The Council’s General Counsel had
  determined that the Chairman was authorized to take home a vehicle.
  However, after receiving our questionnaire, the Chairman requested a
  review of the issue by the Corporation Counsel who determined that the
  Chairman was not authorized. In November 1998, a Council
  representative told us the Chairman has discontinued taking home an
  official vehicle.

• District of Columbia Public Schools: One employee, the Chief of
  Security, was authorized to take home a vehicle. He told us when the
  law passed in 1997, the then-Superintendent of Schools informed his
  staff that no one was authorized to take home a vehicle except for the
  Chief of Security. This exception was because he was on 24-hour call to
  respond to all incidents at schools and investigate white-collar crime in
  the District’s schools. The Chief has arrest authority and uses a police-
  certified emergency vehicle. The Chief continued to take home a car
  until September 1998 when, after receiving our questionnaire, the new
  Superintendent informed him that no one was authorized to take home a
  car.

• Public Service Commission: One employee at the Commission was
  authorized to take home a vehicle on a limited basis. This person was to
  take home the vehicle when late night or early morning pick-ups were
  required as part of his official duties. According to a Commission
  official, the Commission did not believe the law applied to it. The
  Commission receives its spending authority through the District of
  Columbia’s appropriations law but then bills the various public utilities
  for the actual money spent. For this reason, the Commission did not
  believe that it fell under the statutory restriction. However, according to
  an official at the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the
  Commission is considered to receive its funding through the
  appropriations act. Upon learning this, the Commission rescinded the
  individual’s authority to take home a vehicle.




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• Sports Commission: The Commission’s Executive Director told us that
  his contract provided him with an official vehicle for his use. While the
  Commission knew about the law, it did not believe the law applied to
  the Commission because the Commission was an independent entity of
  the District Government. Further, the law creating the Commission
  stated that its employees were not employees of the District. However,
  this law was amended in January 1995 to provide that members of the
  Commission, who had been employees of the Armory Board before
  August 23, 1994, would be considered employees of the District. The
  Executive Director had been the General Manager of the Armory Board
  before his current position. He told us that he believed the change in the
  law applied only to retirement and health benefits. After discussions
  with us, in which we informed him of our view that he was a District
  employee, the Executive Director agreed to stop taking home an official
  vehicle.

• Taxicab Commission: The Commission Chairman told us he was under
  the impression that last spring some exceptions had been granted for
  individuals like him to use the vehicle on a 24-hour basis. He stated that
  in performing his official duties, the vehicle is needed on a 24-hour basis
  to respond to incidents involving taxicabs, limousines, cars, shuttles,
  and buses that provide service in the District and are regulated by the
  Commission. His official duties require that he monitor the conduct of
  taxicabs and vehicles for hire providing service throughout the District
  at hotels, museums, the bus terminal, Union Station, Capitol Hill, MCI
  Arena events, the Kennedy Center, the National Theater, and other
  locations in the District. He said that he constantly performs his official
  duties on an ongoing basis and must have the vehicle available to
  conduct random inspections of taxicabs. Further, he noted that when
  the vehicle was left at the Commission’s office, it had been stolen twice
  and broken into and vandalized three times. After discussions with us, in
  which we told him that the only exception in the law was for police
  officers living in the District, the Commission Chairman agreed to stop
  taking home an official vehicle.

• UDC: The President of UDC was allowed to take home a vehicle. He told
  us that the contract of his predecessor contained a clause authorizing
  the use of a vehicle. In accepting the position, he agreed to abide by the
  previous contract terms while his own contract was being negotiated.
  The purchase, operation, and maintenance of this vehicle were funded
  with the tuition collected by UDC. Further, the University Counsel
  stated that the President is required by contract to live in a residence
  that is UDC property. By contract, both the President and UDC use the



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                           residence for official functions. Since the President commutes between
                           UDC-owned facilities, UDC officials did not believe the law applied.
                           After discussions with us, in which we told University officials of our
                           view that the restriction applies to tuition funds and it does not
                           distinguish between a private residence or one that is owned by a
                           District entity, the President agreed to stop taking home the vehicle.

                         We judgmentally selected 22 employees at 9 entities who the District
Entities’ Efforts to     reported as taking home a vehicle during fiscal year 1997 and sent them a
Notify Staff of Change   questionnaire asking whether they were aware of the enactment of the
in Law                   restriction on taking home vehicles for fiscal year 1998. Twenty-one
                         responded that they knew about the law. These employees told us that
                         they had been notified, either personally or in writing, of the change in the
                         law. The last employee said he was unaware of the change in the law until
                         he received our survey, at which time he stopped taking home a car. An
                         official of the entity for which this employee worked said that a
                         memorandum had been sent to division heads concerning the restriction,
                         and that it was their job to inform the staff. However, the entity official
                         was not able to provide us with a copy of this memorandum.

                         We discussed the actions taken to inform employees of the change in the
                         vehicle use law with officials of 10 entities. According to entity officials,
                         each of these entities had notified the affected staff of the change. The
                         Department of Human Services Director, for example, in a memorandum
                         to all employees dated December 4, 1997, stated that “Effective
                         immediately, there can be no use of official vehicles to commute to your
                         homes.” Solid Waste Management Administration, Department of Public
                         Works, employees were told in a memorandum dated December 4, 1997,
                         that “NOBODY in the Solid Waste Management Administration shall take a
                         vehicle home, for any reasons.” The Police Department’s Office of
                         Professional Responsibility required the members of the force of that
                         office to sign an acknowledgement that they had received the Interim
                         Police Chief’s December 15, 1997, memorandum about the law.

                         When we surveyed the 46 entity heads, we also learned that 6 employees
                         who were taking home vehicles to carry out official duties during off-duty
                         hours in the Office of Corporation Counsel had not been notified of the
                         change in the law. As previously discussed, this oversight has been
                         corrected.




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                      At the time of our review, most of the District government entities we
Conclusions           surveyed reported practices that were in compliance with section
                      150(a)(1) of Public Law 105-100. However, on the basis of the information
                      we were provided, we concluded that nine entities that responded to our
                      inquiry had not complied with this provision and had improperly permitted
                      employees to take home official vehicles. Either as a result of our inquiry
                      or after we informed these entities that we considered them to be in
                      violation of the restrictions in section 150(a)(1), eight of them rescinded
                      the authorization to take home vehicles, and the affected individuals have
                      reportedly ceased the practice. The remaining entity, DCHA, plans to use
                      nonappropriated funds to cover the cost of vehicles that are taken home.
                      We concur that the statutory restriction does not prohibit DCHA from
                      spending its nonappropriated funds on vehicles that are taken home.

                      On February 19, 1999, we provided a draft of this report to the Mayor,
Agency Comments and   District of Columbia; Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia;
Our Evaluation        Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management
                      Assistance Authority; the Interim Chief Financial Officer, District of
                      Columbia; Receiver, District of Columbia Housing Authority; General
                      Manager, District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority; Corporation
                      Counsel, District of Columbia Office of Corporation Counsel;
                      Superintendent, District of Columbia Public Schools; Chairman, District of
                      Columbia Public Service Commission; Executive Director, District of
                      Columbia Sports Commission; and the President, University of the District
                      of Columbia.

                      On February 26, March 9, and March 15, 1999, the Receiver, District of
                      Columbia Housing Authority; the Interim Chief Financial Officer, District
                      of Columbia; and Executive Director, District of Columbia Financial
                      Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, provided written
                      comments. The Receiver explained how he would fund taking vehicles
                      home with nonappropriated funds. (See app. III.) The Interim Chief
                      Financial Officer concurred with the report and provided a copy of a
                      memorandum to all department and agency heads issued on February 25,
                      1999, which clearly sets forth the statutory prohibition on the use of
                      government vehicles. (See app. IV.) The Executive Director commented on
                      the history of the Authority’s actions concerning the issue discussed and
                      pointed out that as of January 2, 1999, the day-to-day operations of the
                      District of Columbia have been delegated to the Mayor. (See app. V.)

                      The following entities provided oral comments. On February 25, 1999, the
                      General Manager, District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority,
                      concurred with our report. On March 4, 1999, the Mayor’s Deputy Director,



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Office of Intergovernmental Relations, responded stating that it is the
Mayor’s position that all entities should abide by all federal laws and that it
was the responsibility of entity heads to see that this is done. On March 4,
1999, the Principal Deputy, Office of Corporation Counsel; Executive
Secretary, Public Service Commission; and the Executive Director, District
of Columbia Sports Commission, called to state that they concurred with
our report. On March 11, 1999, the Chief Financial Officer, University of
the District of Columbia, said that the University concurred with the
report. On March 18, 1999, the Secretary to the Council of the District of
Columbia told us that the Chairman concurred with the report.

The Superintendent, District of Columbia Public Schools, did not provide
either oral or written comments.

We are sending copies of this report to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,
Senator Richard J. Durbin, and Senator George V. Voinovich and to
Representative Tom Davis, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, and
Representative James P. Moran in their capacities as Chair or Ranking
Minority Member of Senate and House Subcommittees. We are also
sending copies to the Honorable Anthony A. Williams, Mayor, District of
Columbia; Ms. Alice Rivlin, Chairman, District of Columbia Financial
Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority; Mr. E. Barrett
Prettyman, Jr., Inspector General, District of Columbia; and other
interested parties. Copies will also be made available to the heads of the
nine entities reported to be in noncompliance with section 150(a)(1) of
Public Law 105-100 as of September 1998 and to others upon request.

Major contributors to this letter are listed in appendix VI. If you have any
questions, please call me on (202) 512-8387.

Sincerely yours,




Bernard L. Ungar
Director, Government Business
  Operations Issues




Page 13                               GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Contents



Letter                                                                          1


Appendix I                                                                     16

District of Columbia
Entities We Contacted
Concerning
Compliance With
Public Law 105-100,
Section 150(a)(1)
Appendix II                                                                    18

Position Title and
Location of Residence
of Employees Who
Were Authorized to
Take Home Official
Vehicles in Fiscal Year
1998
Appendix III                                                                   20

Comments From the
District of Columbia
Housing Authority
Appendix IV                                                                    22

Comments From the
District of Columbia
Office of the Chief
Financial Officer



                          Page 14   GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
                        Contents




Appendix V                                                                                                23

Comments From the
District of Columbia
Financial
Responsibility and
Management
Assistance Authority
Appendix VI                                                                                               24

Major Contributors to
This Report
Tables                  Table 1: Number of Employees, by District Entity, Who                              7
                          Were Authorized to Take Home Vehicles as of
                          September 1998
                        Table II.1: Nine Entities That Withdrew Employee                                  18
                          Authorizations by March 1998
                        Table II.2: Nine Entities That Were in Noncompliance                              18
                          With the Law as of September 1998




                        Abbreviations

                        DCHA          District of Columbia Housing Authority
                        UDC           University of the District of Columbia
                        WASA          Water and Sewer Authority




                        Page 15                                GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix I

District of Columbia Entities We Contacted
Concerning Compliance With Public Law 105-
100, Section 150(a)(1)
              •   Board of Elections and Ethics
              •   Commission on Arts and Humanities
              •   Council of the District of Columbia
              •   Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
              •   Court System/Superior Court
              •   Department of Administrative Services
              •   Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
              •   Department of Corrections
              •   Department of Employment Services
              •   Department of Health
              •   Department of Housing and Community Development
              •   Department of Human Rights and Local Business
              •   Department of Human Services
              •   Department of Public Works
              •   Department of Recreation
              •   Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Economic Development
              •   Energy Office
              •   Executive Office of the Mayor
              •   Health and Hospitals Public Benefit Corporation
              •   Housing Authority
              •   Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board
              •   Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Medical Services
              •   Metropolitan Police Department
              •   Office of Aging
              •   Office of Banking and Financial Institutions
              •   Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications
              •   Office of Campaign Finance
              •   Office of Chief Financial Officer
              •   Office of City Administrator
              •   Office of Corporation Counsel
              •   Office of Economic Development
              •   Office of Emergency Preparedness
              •   Office of Financial Operations and Systems
              •   Office of Grants Management and Development
              •   Office of Inspector General
              •   Office of People’s Counsel
              •   Office of Personnel
              •   Office of the Secretary
              •   Office of Tax and Revenue
              •   Public Library
              •   Public Schools
              •   Public Service Commission



              Page 16                            GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix I
District of Columbia Entities We Contacted Concerning Compliance With Public Law 105-
100, Section 150(a)(1)




•   Sports Commission
•   Taxicab Commission
•   University of the District of Columbia
•   Water and Sewer Authority




Page 17                                   GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix II

Position Title and Location of Residence of
Employees Who Were Authorized to Take
Home Official Vehicles in Fiscal Year 1998
Table II.1: Nine Entities That Withdrew                                                                               Month
Employee Authorizations by March 1998                                                      Number of                  authorization
                                          Entity                                           employees                  rescinded
                                                                                                     a
                                          Metropolitan Police Department                         104                  December 1997
                                          Metropolitan Police Department                           18                 February 1998
                                                                                                     b
                                          Department of Corrections                               10                  December 1997
                                          Department of Corrections                                15                 February 1998
                                                                                                     b
                                          Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Medical Services         9                  December 1997
                                          Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Medical Services          6                 March 1998
                                                                                                     b
                                          Department of Administrative Services                    1                  November 1997
                                          Department of Housing and Community
                                                                                                     b
                                          Development                                              1                  November 1997
                                                                                                     b
                                          Office of the City Administrator                          1                 November 1997
                                                                                                     b
                                          Department of Human Services                            22                  December 1997
                                                                                                     b
                                          Department of Public Works                              18                  December 1997
                                                                                                     b
                                          Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs            2                  February 1998
                                          a.
                                           The 104 for the police is estimated based on the number authorized to take vehicles home as of
                                          September 30, 1997, and the number authorized to take home a vehicle as of June 8,1998. Under
                                          the law, police officers that live in the District can be authorized to take home a vehicle.
                                          b
                                           These numbers are based on figures as of September 30, 1997.
                                          Source: GAO summary of information provided by District of Columbia officials.




Table II.2: Nine Entities That Were in
Noncompliance With the Law as of                                                                     Employee’s
September 1998                            Entity                 Employee’s title                    residence Authorizing official
                                          Water and Sewer        General Manager                     District   Board of Directors
                                          Authority
                                                                 Chief Financial Officer             Virginia       General Manager
                                                                 Chief Engineer                      Virginia       General Manager
                                                                 Assistant General Manager           District       General Manager
                                                                 Director, Sewer Services            Maryland       General Manager
                                                                 Department
                                                                 Director, Water Services            Virginia       General Manager
                                                                 Department
                                                                 Acting Director of Water            Maryland       General Manager
                                                                 Measurement and Billing
                                                                 Department
                                                                 Public Affairs Manager              Maryland       General Manager
                                                                 Manager, Engineering and            Maryland       General Manager
                                                                 Technical Services Department
                                          Office of              Investigator                        District       Corporation Counsel
                                          Corporation Counsel
                                                                 Investigator                        District       Corporation Counsel
                                                                 Investigator                        District       Corporation Counsel
                                                                 Investigator                        Maryland       Corporation Counsel
                                                                 Investigator                        Maryland       Corporation Counsel
                                                                 Investigator                        Maryland       Corporation Counsel
                                          Council of the         Chairman                            District       Chairman
                                          District of Columbia
                                          District of Columbia Director, Division of Security        Virginia       Then-Superintendent
                                          Public Schools




                                          Page 18                                         GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix II
Position Title and Location of Residence of Employees Who Were Authorized to Take Home
Official Vehicles in Fiscal Year 1998




Public Service         Administrative Clerk                District       Chairman
Commission
Sports Commission      Executive Director                  Maryland       Sports Commissioner
Taxicab                Chairman                            District       Chairman
Commission
University of the      President                           District       Board of Trustees
District of Columbia
District of Columbia   Receiver                            District       Receiver
Housing Authority
                       Chief Inspector                District            Receiver
                       Manager, Regional              Maryland            Receiver
                       Maintenance
                       Regional Maintenance Director District             Receiver
                       Boiler Plant Foreman           District            Receiver
                       Security Operations Manager Maryland               Receiver
                       Director, Public Affairs       District            Receiver
                       Regional Administrator         District            Receiver
                       (Potomac)
                       Chief, Mechanical Operations - Virginia            Receiver
                       Heating
                       Director, Occupied Unit        District            Receiver
                       Rehabilitation/Construction
                       Director, Finance (temporary   District            Receiver
                       approval)
                       Director, Housing/Maintenance Maryland             Receiver
                       Management
                       Regional Maintenance Director Virginia             Receiver
                       Regional Administrator         Maryland            Receiver
                       (Anacostia)
                       Regional/Construction Division Virginia            Receiver
                       Director
                       Regional Administrator (Rock District              Receiver
                       Creek)
                       Maintenance Supervisor         Maryland            Receiver
                       Facility Manager, Site &       Maryland            Receiver
                       Structure
                       Director, Development and      Maryland            Receiver
                       Modernization (Heating Season
                       only)
                       Regional Maintenance Director District             Receiver
                       Director, Vacant Unit Program Virginia             Receiver
                       Chief of Police, DCHA Police   Virginia            Receiver
                       Department
                       Fire Safety Officer            Maryland            Receiver
Sources: Responses to GAO questionnaire and District of Columbia officials.




Page 19                                        GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix III

Comments From the District of Columbia
Housing Authority




               Page 20      GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix III
Comments From the District of Columbia Housing Authority




Page 21                                  GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix IV

Comments From the District of Columbia
Office of the Chief Financial Officer




              Page 22       GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix V

Comments From the District of Columbia
Financial Responsibility and Management
Assistance Authority




              Page 23       GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
Appendix VI

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Ronald L. King, Assistant Director
General Government      Thomas G. Keightley, Evaluator-in-Charge
Division, Washington,   Joshua M. Bartzen, Evaluator
D.C.
                        Alan Belkin, Assistant General Counsel
Office of the General   Robert J. Heitzman, Senior Attorney
Counsel, Washington,
D.C.




                        Page 24                            GAO/GGD-99-50 Private Use of Official Vehicles
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