IG: Municipal engineer teleworking simultaneously for DPW and private company

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An engineer from the Ministry of Public Works was paid to perform two jobs during the same hours for more than a year, which he was able to do by working remotely in both, the Inspector General of Baltimore.

An IG Isabel Mercedes Cumming report said the engineer, employed by the Water and Wastewater Office at DPW, got a full-time job with a private company in May 2020 after being allowed to telecommute at home due to the Covid pandemic.

The employee – unnamed in the public synopsis released today – is still employed by DPW, according to the report.

Caught by a new employer

Tamiko Bryant, director of human resources at DPW, did not address the employee’s current status, but said DPW plans to require all people authorized to work remotely “to have a signed telecommuting agreement. in their file ”.

The agency also plans to “publish advice to agencies and employees on out-of-town secondary employment.”

DPW Director Jason Mitchell, who was hired in Oakland, Calif., By Mayor Brandon Scott to provide transformational leadership to a department rocked by inefficiencies and scandals (here, here and here), failed responded to the IG report.

When the employee in question was authorized by his superiors to work from home, he did not sign the required telework form. And when he applied for a job in the private company, he indicated that his job at DPW spanned the years 2009 to 2020.

“During the review process, the company discovered that the engineer never ended his tenure with the city. “

“The company assumed the engineer’s tenure with the city was over,” the report said, and he was hired to work remotely for the company Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4 pm.

At the same time, the engineer had to work for DPW from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

This arrangement lasted until spring 2021, when the engineer requested an internal transfer to the company, which resulted in a job review.

“During the review process, the company discovered that the engineer never terminated his tenure with the city and held both jobs simultaneously,” the report said.

No financial disclosure

The engineer stopped filing an annual disclosure report with the city’s ethics committee after 2018, when he was told he was not required to do so. The report requires disclosure of secondary employment.

“If the engineer had been required to file but nevertheless failed to disclose the secondary employment, there may have been grounds for an ethical investigation,” Cumming wrote in his report.

Jason Mitchell, deputy administrator for the city of Oakland, officially started in May as director of DPW Baltimore at $ 245,000 per year. (oaklandca.gov)

Departmental “surveillance”

As it stands, the employee is not subject to sanctions because the city’s teleworking policy, which has not been updated since 2017, “does not specifically address the issue of ‘side job while telecommuting, “Cumming noted.

“During the investigation, the DPW informed the OIG that the absence of a signed telework agreement was an oversight by the ministry. DPW claimed it was rectifying oversight to bring the department into compliance. “

Another section of the city’s administrative manual (AM) allows secondary employment provided that such employment does not conflict with other city policies, such as the ethics law.

The AM “is not clear on the subject of duplication in teleworking. Additionally, the policy does not specify whether an employee can overlap shifts while working for the city and another entity, ”the report said.

Recommendations

With the prospect of at least some degree of telework in the future, the IG recommended the following to Mayor Scott, City Council and the Human Resources Department:

• Specify the exact working hours required while telecommuting and document that employees are not doing other work during those hours.

• Reassess the telework authorization if performance issues are identified while an employee is in telework status.

• Review AM policies to directly address telework situations.

• Consider requiring financial statements for all non-administrative employees and / or employees above a certain salary or skill level, including engineers and other professionals.

The telework of tomorrow

Developing the use of telework has become a goal of city administrator Chris Shorter.

While the restoration of suspended or limited “resident services” during the pandemic is now underway, Shorter says he and Mayor Scott are unwilling to return “to the status quo where all staff show up 100% of the time. “.

Shorter recently convened an internal task force to reinvent the workplace after the pandemic.

To reach this journalist in complete confidentiality: reuttermark@yahoo.com


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