Auditor Recommendations Could Save San Jose $11.6 Million

San Jose saved more than $1 million by strengthening controls over its environmental services contracts. Street sweeping has become more efficient now that the city uses an electronic system to monitor routes and track physical barriers such as low ranches and damaged pavement. And although taxpayers still subsidize the city’s golf courses, ramped-up marketing boosted revenue by attracting more customers.

Source: San Jose City Auditor

The city has saved time and money by closing 42 recommendations from City Auditor Sharon Erickson in the past six months. But there’s a lot more work to be done, with 151 recommendations only partly addressed and 56 still open, according to a status report coming before the City Council on Tuesday.

“When implemented, a majority of those recommendations will improve operational efficiency of city departments,” the report reads. “Others will improve transparency and accountability, or improve service delivery. Others will help secure city assets.”

Erickson suggests prioritizing the following four issues that deal with basic internal controls.

  • The city needs to create an agency-wide security policy to protect credit card numbers, other sensitive information and to have a process in place to recover data in case of emergency.
  • To better manage off-duty police work, the San Jose Police Department needs to bolster oversight of its secondary employment program. Twenty-one of the 30 recommendations handed down in a 2012 report have yet to be enacted.
  • The Office of Economic Development has yet to update its backlog of expired city leases, a problem identified in a 2008 report.
  • To better respond and follow-up on injuries that cost the city about $9 million a year, the San Jose Fire Department plans to hire a safety officer this fall. But seven other recommendations from a 2012 audit on fire department injuries have yet to be implemented.

Meanwhile, 10 recommendations that were previously made a priority are still pending, including a plan to quicken firefighters’ emergency response times and assess staffing to make sure the city is keeping up with fire inspections.

The potential budget savings from 25 open recommendations amounts to $11.6 million, according to Erickson’s status report.

Following up on overdue accounts in the San Jose Fire Department would save $1.2 million. Obtaining software to conduct payroll reviews in the Office of Equality Assurance would save $300,000. Renegotiating an integration agreement with the Santa Clara Valley Water District would save an estimated $2.8 million.

Reducing overtime for supervisors would save $1.6 million, requiring employees to lower compensatory time would cut $1.1 million and reviewing cellphone billing could save $200,000. And a recommendation to eliminate the public art requirement for underground utility projects stands to save the city $2.2 million.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 27, 2018:

  • The council will consider paying $1.4 million to the Northern California Power Authority over two years to help the city manage its new sustainable power plan, called San Jose Clean Energy.
  • The city plans to ask Santa Clara County for a $1 million in grant to build a playground that’s accessible to disabled kids at Alum Rock Park. That grant money will supplement $4 million the city plans to spend on inclusive playgrounds at other sites, too, including Emma Prusch Farm and Lincoln Glen parks.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. I highly doubt regulating off-duty police work will save San Jose any money, as secondary employers pay officers directly. If officers are somehow getting paid too much for services rendered, private employers will know about long before the City figures it out.

    Sounds like that tidbit was included to throw shade at SJPD, one of the local media’s major missions no matter what the main story is about.

    • What you say is nonsense. Secondary employment by police officers has a real, measurable impact on the community. Exhausted officers are more prone to injury, bad decision making, as well as absenteeism. It is not in the community’s interest to have large numbers of police officers working a second job. They are very well compensated for their primary job, so there is little justification for additional income.

      • Another bean counter thinking that he understands secondary employment There are and have been for a long time, time limits to the number of hours an officer is allowed to work in a 24 hour period and work week. Exhausted officers? You mean like the ones who are now being mandatorily heldover each shift. There were 8 day shift officers that started at 0630 yesterday and were held until almost 10 pm after multiple robbery and carjacking calls in Foothill Division. Are those the officers that our taxpayers are worried about protecting from injury so as they dont incur the taxpayer extra money from their pocket book? Glad you have it all figured out with your bias slant on the situation. I guess the officers are compensated enough to work 16 hour work days? How many hours do you consider “primary hours”? Please enlighten me Anthony Stegman, you seem to be in the know. Oh perhaps you are another council aid chiming in for your boss? The entire premise behind secondary employment was never to help the cops make money, its always been voluntary. Much like when they went with zero pay raises for six years on top of the 10% paycut. The premise behind payjobs ie schools, festivals, marathons, xmas in the park was to take the burden off an already understaffed BFO patrol. Maybe you should stick to the stuff you know about and not make your condescending comments to the cops who are out there chasing down the carjackings and robbery suspects. If you think im exaggerating get yourself a subscription to sound cloud and download the above events for yourself or perhaps ask a council person to pull the watch commander log for the last few days. Comical. Oh and im sure theyre very thankful that you so kindly pay their salary.

  2. ” .. . . And a recommendation to eliminate the public art requirement for underground utility projects stands to save the city $2.2 million.” Wait. What? the city has an Art Requirement for underground utility projects???
    Clarification Please.
    This sounds like whenever a city crew is working on some underground project- – water, sewer, gas, communications – – there has to be some art installed?
    I realize over the years San Jose has invested in some pretty shitty art – -but is this the way to get rid of it? Maybe so. Out of sight, out of mind.
    Aren’t there some needy groups out there that could use some art?

  3. > And a recommendation to eliminate the public art requirement for underground utility projects stands to save the city $2.2 million.

    Why not keep the art and just raise taxes by $2.2 million.

    Moles and gophers are people, too.

    • Its about time someone acknowledges our existence! The mole and gophers of this great city have been looked down for far too long! Glad to have your support!

  4. Multiple prior money saving recommendations have not been implemented. Probably due to lack of money. All the money wasted on homeless programs that haven’t worked would have covered the cost.

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