Los Angeles County Agency Wastes Half a Million Dollars on Inappropriate Cell Phone Charges, Auditor

In a December 21 report, Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe said the county's Department of Children and Family Services has "significant weaknesses" when it comes to controlling cell phone costs, and may have wasted more than half a million dollars in 2009 alone.

"These weaknesses have resulted in the Department paying at least $514,000 in potentially unnecessary and inappropriate cell phone service charges in 2009," the auditor wrote. "Although our review was primarily limited to 2009, it is likely that the Department paid for unnecessary and inappropriate charges in the prior and current years."

Among the problems: The department could not identify the assigned users for more than 250 cell phones; the agency paid monthly service fees for more than 1,400 cell phones (28 percent of the total inventory of phones) and 220 broadband cards that were not used during 2009; the department paid for personal calls that were international, long-distance calls; the agency paid for GPS tracking software on some phones but employees either did not use the feature or were unaware that it existed. (Source: County of Los Angeles Department of Auditor-Controller report, December 21.)

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