Chick Will Review City Travel Costs
Amid concern that one Los Angeles agency has proposed nearly tripling its travel spending, despite the city’s budget problems, City Controller Laura Chick said Tuesday that she would review how much taxpayer money is being spent by all departments on trips out of town.
Chick announced her review after City Council members Jack Weiss and Cindy Miscikowski formally called for audits on travel by officials with the Information Technology Agency, which oversees city government computer systems and cable television franchises in Los Angeles.
Weiss, who heads the council committee monitoring the agency, said the agency had spent the $18,400 it budgeted for travel in the 2003-04 fiscal year and was seeking an additional $35,000.
“The purpose of this city department ought to be to save consumers money, not cost taxpayers extra money,” Weiss said.
Information Technology officials said the additional travel money would allow officials to attend educational conferences and training sessions. The agency’s top administrator went to a Society of Information Managers symposium this month in New York City, and four agency officials attended a cable television conference last month in Denver.
Chick said she would begin a “thorough analysis” of travel by all city departments.
“During these very tough economic and budgetary times, the city has had to cut many areas, including staff travel,” Chick said. “I am very interested to see if the city has indeed curbed its appetite in this area.”
The review comes a week after Mayor James K. Hahn asked city managers to prepare plans to cut their budgets by as much as 10% to accommodate an anticipated $47-million reduction in state funding.
Weiss said he also wants an explanation of the extensive travel by the agency’s assistant general manager, Thera G. Bradshaw, for the Assn. of Public Safety Communications Officials. Between July 6 and Dec. 13, 2002, Bradshaw traveled out of the city for 63 days on trips paid for by the association. Costs totaled $26,200.
In a report filed with the city Ethics Commission, Bradshaw said she had been on the executive board of the association during the time, and that her trips had been to meetings of the group in Washington, D.C.; Daytona, Fla.; Nashville, San Diego, New York and Cancun, Mexico.
Los Angeles benefited because the trips allowed her to gain knowledge and influence federal policy on telecommunications issues affecting the city, Bradshaw said.