As part of the Administration’s commitment to increase transparency and accountability throughout City Government, today Mayor Emanuel announced that employee reimbursements are now available online. More than 3,000 individual reimbursements the City made to employees in the last 13 months can be found online at data.cityofchicago.org.
“To ensure we are responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, we implemented stricter guidelines and more accountability to our employee reimbursement policies. Today’s effort is another important step toward creating an open, transparent government that is truly accountable to the citizens of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel.
Since taking office, the Mayor Emanuel has released over 300 datasets, including salary information, crime data going back 10 years, lobbyist disclosures, debarred vendors and abandoned buildings. Since May 16, 2011, the City of Chicago’s open Data Portal has logged more than 960,000 views and over 40 million rows have been accessed.
To help the public monitor and evaluate city services, the City of Chicago’s technology office has also launched performance dashboards featuring 66 different metrics on city services for 14 departments including pothole repair, licensing and permitting, and 311 calls. These datasets are available online at cityofchicago.org/performance.
The reimbursement policy was crafted after Mayor Emanuel called on City Comptroller Amer Ahmad to conduct a thorough review of past reimbursement and travel practices to increase accountability and efficiency across City government and protect taxpayer money. In his report to the Mayor, Ahmad identified several systemic weaknesses including, unsupported or limited support for reimbursements, inadequate management review and follow up, unclear monitoring and audit controls, and questionable or inconsistent usage of other local transportation modes. Ahmad’s detailed review of all City expenditures and reimbursements led to the City cutting the number of City credit cards from 500 to approximately 8 and the elimination of petty cash.
Ahmad also found instances of employees being reimbursed for car washes, transportation to jury duty, parking tickets, excessive parking costs and even late fees on personal credit cards. Ahmad anticipates saving nearly $1 million with these reforms.
“Across the board we found inconsistency in the policies and enforcement in our Departments and Sister Agencies,” said Ahmad. “This new policy provides the necessary structure to ensure that City travel is efficient and above all an appropriate use of city resources.”