San Jose may update its procurement card policies to keep employees in check, after a recent audit found several examples of overspending.
In a proposal up for consideration at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Sam Liccardo say posting transaction data online would “increase transparency and encourage compliance with city policies.”
Last month, a city audit found some major violations of procurement card (p-card) rules. Receipts showed that the head of Economic Development, Joseph Hedges, dropped $2,300 on a dinner for 28 guests at Paolo’s in downtown to entertain a Sister Cities delegation from Ireland. Some $700 of that was spent on a dozen $55 bottles of wine.
The audit questioned the purchase of $225 VIP tickets to an awards dinner for non-city employees. Kim Aguirre, director of San Jose International Airport, bought the tickets for the “Women of Influence Awards” hosted by the Silicon Valley Business Journal this spring, which appears to violate city policy that requires p-card purchases to be the least expensive item that meets specifications.
Also in the audit: a purchase by Capt. Cleo Doss, spokesman for the San Jose Fire Department, who charged $600 to the city to rent a BMW for two-and-a-half weeks for personal use after his own car was totaled. City policy limits charge cards for official city business, not “for personal purchases under any circumstances.”
Liccardo and Reed suggest shedding more light on the process by posting transaction reports on the city website as soon as the card numbers have been redacted. And for council appointees’ purchases, the City Clerk should be the approving official.
“A critical improvement to the procurement card process would be to bring transparency to these transactions,” Reed and Liccardo write. “This would allow for public scrutiny of procurement card transactions and provide more information to city residents about how their funds are being spent.”
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for October 21, 2014:
- Four years ago, San Jose council members voted to boycott Arizona in response to the state’s passage of draconian anti-immigration policies. Lawsuits by human rights groups have challenged the constitutionality of SB 1070, which, according to the ACLU, has led to a surge in racial profiling. City attorney Richard Doyle says that, because legal opposition to the law is gaining more traction, it's time to lift the boycott to support Latino groups in Arizona.
- Councilman Ash Kalra is asking the city to support a state bill that aims to reduce prison crowding and boost treatment programs. Prop. 47 would also redirect money saved from reduced prison time to mental health and drug treatment programs, public schools and crime victims. The bill was co-sponsored by former San Jose police chief and soon-to-retire San Diego Police Chief William Landsowne and has garnered an eclectic group of supporters, including unions, human rights groups, mental health organizations and Jay-Z. Critics include a long list of law enforcement groups, including the California Police Chiefs Association.
- City officials want to up the number of units eligible for a high-rise construction tax break from 2,500 to 2,550. Since 2007, the city has offered developers a 50-percent break on park fees to spur new construction in downtown. To date, the city has waived $11.8 million for the program, which sunsets in 2016.
- The city is trying to get the San Jose Central Fire Station, built in 1951 and closed in 2000, on the National Register of Historic Places and turn it into a museum.
INFO: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260