WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A new report issued by the Office of the DC Auditor highlights multiple failures in how the Department of General Services manages its work orders.
According to the audit, “Auditors found serious shortcomings in DGS use of (its Computerized Maintenance Management System) tracking system, including failure to provide documentation or be fully transparent with those initiating work orders.”
DGS is responsible for work orders submitted for all District buildings, including DC Public Schools and government facilities.
The report states that the most frequent maintenance requests were for locks and doors, lighting and HVAC services.
It also found that DGS fails to meet response times for work orders, documentation of work orders failed to include photos and the current database, “does not fully capture work order costs.”
Of the work orders reviewed during the audit, 43% were for DCPS buildings. And, of the top 20 buildings where the most work orders were submitted, eight were DCPS buildings; five were temporary housing shelters.
“Failure is the right word for it,” said Scott Goldstein, Executive Director of the group EmpowerED. “Our students are in these buildings every day. Our teachers are in these buildings every day. And they are expected to deliver excellence in buildings that are not excellent.”
Goldstein said he was not surprised to see the results of the audit, as he said DGS has a long history of failing to respond to work orders submitted for public schools quickly.
“We’re talking about leaking roofs, we’re talking about HVACs that don’t work, we’re talking about winter days with no heat and summer days with no air,” he said.
Various councilmembers have pushed for more accountability from DGS, including Robert White who led efforts to launch a DCPS work order dashboard.
“No agency wants to see issues linger publicly,” said White back in October. “DGS is working hard to get on top of those work orders. But, this is motivation to get them closed even more quickly because no one want to see a work order that’s open two months, six months, nine months.”
Goldstein supports the dashboard but believes more change needs to happen.
“The fact that we’ve had so much oversight of DGS, and so many questions asked, so many stories raised over the years and yet these problems have not been fixed speaks to a failure of executive leaders and to the system we have in place of checks and balances,” he said.
The audit did make recommendations for improvement, including the “implementation of an inventory management system integrated with the work order tracking system and ‘a robust supervisory review of work orders’ including an independent assessment of the accuracy and reasonableness of data entered into the DGS system.”
In a statement, the agency said, “The Department of General Services takes this work very seriously and is currently reviewing the report. DGS looks forward to submitting a thorough response to the recommendations.”