The District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer has launched a new website, http://track.dc.gov/, that allows residents to review D.C. agency budget and performance measures using easy-to-read graphics. Each agency's page on the site features links to its performance plans and accountability reports, as well as graphics showing where the agency's budget goes, personnel and purchase card spending, and how it is doing on key performance indicators and customer service measures. A "FOIA" link calls up the agency's Freedom of Information Act contact information, and another menu provides data sets from the agency in various formats.
The D.C. Council's investigatory report on the attempted transfer of a District fire truck to the Dominican Republic has been released. The report concludes that no District laws were broken in the undertaking, but observed that the conduct of the executive officials involved was not transparent and appeared to disregard District rules. Examiner
In a resolution to the ongoing dispute between D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols and Attorney General Peter Nickles, the two parties have agreed to a settlement that allows Nichols to review more than 1,000 boxes of records from two now-defunct economic development agencies. Nichols had received a court order requiring the city to allow her to review the records of the Anacostia Waterfront Development Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation, but Nickles had appealed that order. The settlement provides that Nichols can review the records, but must provide Nickles with a copy of any record which she wishes to use, and Nickles may object to its use. D.C.
The D.C. Public Schools contracted with Chartwell-Thompsons School Dining Services in 2008 to provide lunches to the District's schoolchildren under an option-year contract that could earn the company up to $140 million through 2013, but the Washington Times reports that food quality, safety and nutrition concerns have been raised repeatedly about the company. The article also notes that a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the D.C. Public Schools to uncover more information about the nutritional content of the lunches had received no response more than a month after it was received. Washington Times
Prior to the release of an audit reporting occurrences of fraud and lack of oversight of the District's Department of Public Works overtime pay system, the Department requested authority to shift $800,000 to cover unbudgeted overtime expenses. The D.C. Council approved the reprogramming request, part of $3.2 million that was shifted within the agency to cover shortfalls. Examiner
In 2008, the District became only the second city in the nation with mandatory paid sick leave for most workers, but as the Post reports, a lack of government communication in the past year about the law has left workers and employers uninformed about the protections it provides. The administration has yet to finalize rules that would implement the law; the rules also would require a publicity campaign to spread the word to workers and businesses about the law's requirements. Washington Post
Attorney General Peter Nickles has promised to look into allegations of overtime fraud and abuse in the Department of Public Works, which came to light in a preliminary report released last week. Auditors reported multiple instances of overtime being improperly paid to city workers, with little oversight in the process to control such occurrences. Nickles has said that he's waiting for the final report to be issued before taking action. The Examiner
An audit has found that that the D.C. Department of Public Works suffered from blown overtime budgets last fiscal year due to rampant fraud and lack of effective oversight. The audit uncovered examples of low-level employees with final authority over time sheets who changed hours to favor friends and family. Certain employees worked no regular hours during a given pay period but received overtime. The Examiner
The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute offers praise for legislation proposed by the D.C.
As Bill Turque reports in his new blog (D.C. Schools Insider), despite much lip service to transparency the District's public school enrollment projections are not being released to the public until the Mayor submits his budget to the D.C. Council, in March. Principals received the enrollment projections for the 2010-11 school year on January 4th and had two days to appeal, so the numbers are now final. However, Chancellor Michelle Rhee's office has said they are still preliminary and being used by schools in developing their budgets. Turque also comments generally on the city's FOIA process, noting that two requests he sent in September have yet to receive a response. D.C.
Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced legislation yesterday that would impose a number of new requirements on the District's procurement office. As reported in the Washington Business Journal, the bill would require all contracts for over $100,000 to undergo review for their environmental impact, would require the posting of sole-source contracts on the office's website at least two weeks before they are awarded, and would require posting emergency contracts within at least one week of approval. The legislation also would establish an ombudsman position to oversee contracts and a website where all contracting opportunities would be posted. Washington Business Journal (s
A new report from D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols has found that the D.C.
Susie Cambria reports that the D.C. Schools budget process for the fiscal year 2011 budget cycle has been retooled to allow for more input from school community members. In addition, the schools' budget webpage (here) provides enhanced information about the timeline and participation in the budget process. Susie's Budget and Policy Corner
In a similar arrangement to an earlier settlement, the District of Columbia has reached an agreement with plaintiffs in one of two remaining cases claiming civil rights violations in mass arrests at Pershing Park in 2002. The District will pay $8.25 million to the plaintiffs, resulting in a per-plaintiff payment of about $18,000. In addition, the city must implement a host of new evidence tracking measures in an effort to avoid a repeat of the mishandling, even destruction of records and delays in production of records that occurred during the case. As reported in the City Paper, these include:
*The D.C. Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General centrally log and index all materials connected in future mass demonstration cases.
Councilmember Jim Graham has introduced legislation that would establish a board to oversee the DC Circulator and streetcar systems in the District of Columbia, in an effort to increase transparency in the route- and fare-setting for those transit systems. Under Graham's bill, the Mayor and D.C. Council would each appoint members, and two would be elected at large. The board would work with the District Department of Transportation and the Mayor's office. Greater Greater Washington