Sick leave abuse, theft highlighted in Ottawa AG report

More than 330 complaints were received on the city's confidential fraud and theft hotline, according to a report released Monday morning by Ottawa Auditor General Ken Hughes.

One case where an employee drove a city vehicle while 'holding a dog'

The city received more than 300 complaints on its confidential fraud and waste hotline in 2013 and 2014.

Stolen city property, sick leave abuse, and one case of driving while "holding a dog" — those were just some of the revelations in a new report by Ottawa Auditor General Ken Hughes on fraud and waste in the city.

The report, presented Monday morning at the city's audit committee, outlined some of the 336 complaints made to the confidential fraud and waste hotline in 2013 and 2014.

Some of the report's highlights:

  • One employee was fired after submitting $2,700 in unsubstantiated health claims to the city's insurance company.
  • Two employees stole recyclable materials that belonged to the city, while a third stole city parks property. All three were fired.
  • Six employees were terminated for misusing sick leave, including three people who used their time off to work for another employer.
  • Seven cases were reported of employees using city vehicles inappropriately, including smoking behind the wheel, making personal trips, and driving while holding a dog. None were fired.
  • Twelve employees were flagged by the IT department for making "higher than expected" personal use of the city's computers and photocopiers. Some of the employees were reprimanded, but again, none were fired.

The city also discovered an "unexplained discrepancy" of $8,400 in scrap metal from one of the city's scrapyards, the report said. In response, the city created "enhanced controls" to prevent future thefts from occurring.

Ottawa Auditor General Ken Hughes called Monday's report a "good news story." (CBC)

In another incident, police were able to recover $3,000 of audio equipment pilfered from a city facility, the report said.

There were also four cases where employees either engaged in unethical conduct or failed to properly identify a conflict of interest, according to the report. 

"This is a good news story," said Hughes. "The content is not good news, but the practice is."

'There are consequences'

Coun. Allan Hubley, chair of the audit committee, said Hughes's report would "dispel the urban legend" that the city is unable to control waste and fraud.

"Today we will learn that there are consequences for those who do not respect the hard-earned tax dollars we are given to operate the city," Hubley said.

The fraud and waste hotline was launched in 2005 as an internal tool for city employees to report waste or fraud by their colleagues. It was opened up to the public in 2009.