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Chicago Inspector General's Office Red Light Camera Program Audit

Chicago Inspector General's Office Red Light Camera Program Audit

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Published by Chicagoist
This is a copy of an audit conducted by the office of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson on the city's red light camera program
This is a copy of an audit conducted by the office of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson on the city's red light camera program

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Published by: Chicagoist on May 14, 2013
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05/15/2013

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866-IG-TIPLINE (866-448-4754)www.chicagoinspectorgeneral.org 
O
FFICE OF
I
NSPECTOR
G
ENERAL
 
City of Chicago
 R
 EPORT OF THE
 I 
 NSPECTOR
G
 ENERAL
S
O
 FFICE
:************************* R
 ED
-L
 IGHT 
 AMERA
 I 
 NSTALLATION 
 A
UDIT 
 
M
AY
2013
 
 
Joseph M. FergusonInspector General
 
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
City of Chicago
740 N.Sedgwick Street, Suite 200Chicago,Illinois 60654Telephone: (773) 478-7799Fax: (773) 478-3949
 
Website: www.chicagoinspectorgeneral.org Hotline: 866-IG-TIPLINE (866-448-4754)
May 14, 2013To the Mayor ,Members of the City Council,City Clerk ,City Treasurer ,and residents of the City of Chicago:The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) has completed an audit of the City’sRed-Light Camera (RLC) program.We sought to determine if RLC installations were made and managed based on the ChicagoDepartment of Transportation’s (CDOT) stated primary criterion of reducing angle crashes toincrease safety. We designed the audit to answer nine questions posed by six members of theCity Council seeking to hold a hearing on the RLC program.Our audit’s findings can be summarized in two simple points.First, CDOT was unable to substantiate its claims that the City chose to install red-light camerasat intersections with the highest angle crash rates in order to increase safety. Neither do weknow, from the information provided by CDOT, why cameras in locations with no recent anglecrashes have not been relocated, nor what the City’s rationale is for the continued operation of any individual camera at any individual location.Second, our audit uncovered little evidence that the overarching program strategy, guidelines, or appropriate metrics are being used to ensure the RLC program is being executed to the best benefit of the City or the general public. Specifically, we found a lack of basic recordkeepingand an alarming lack of analysis for an ongoing program that costs tens of millions of dollars ayear and generates tens of millions more in revenue.The majority of these camera location decisions were made five or more years ago, whenvirtually none of CDOT’s current leadership was involved with the program. However, camerasinstalled years ago are still in operation today and have been throughout the two-year tenure of CDOT’s current leadership. Yet the Department cannot produce documentation demonstratinghow each camera location was chosen, or why cameras in locations with no recent angle crasheshave not been relocated pursuant to CDOT’s relocation criteria. If the intent of the RLC programis to increase safety and reduce the number of dangerous angle crashes, it is troubling that CDOTcannot produce documentation or an analysis demonstrating how each camera location waschosen, including all of those currently in operation, was chosen.
 
We found no evidence
of
this program being managed in a manner designed specifically tomaximize revenue. For example, there was
no
evidence that ticket revenue influenced camerarelocation decisions. However, we also found that the City generally lacked basic unit costinformation needed to make informed operational decisions, such as whether to repair or replaceequipment, or buy or lease cameras. For example, we were surprised to fmd that the City wasspending $13,800 in annual maintenance for cameras purchased at $24,500 each -in otherwords, annual maintenance expenditure equal 56 percent
of
the purchase price. Given suchdiscoveries, we question whether the City or contract personnel have undertaken any meaningfuleffort to limit unnecessary costs.The City cannot effectively manage its programs unless it measures its programs.The City is currently rebidding the contract to manage this program. However, it appears to bedoing this with a profoundly troubling paucity
of
historical data and analysis to inform a decisionthat purports primarily to be in the service
of
traffic safety.Going forward, the City must establish and follow clear criteria for its decisions on where tolocate and maintain red-light cameras.
It
should also retain verifiable documentation
of
the dataand process employed for each location decision, including the continuation
of
the operation
of
acamera in a specific location. Absent that, the IGO cannot reasonably regard the red-lightcamera program as being operated in the optimally efficient and effective service
of
traffic safety
as
generally claimed.CDOT's response is included in the audit. CDOT stated that it intends to review the RLCinstallation and removal criteria and determine what,
if
any modifications should be made goingforward. Additionally, it has pledged to work with the winning RLC vendor to review currentcamera locations and ensure that the criteria have been met and appropriately documented
at
intersections where cameras are now located. We concur with these stated intentions and lookforward to the results
of
the analyses.I hope this audit is
of
use to the City Council in its oversight efforts and to CDOT officials intheir efforts to manage this $70 million program.We thank CDOT staff and leadership for theirengagement
of
and attention to this matter, and we look forward to completing a follow-up auditin the future.
W ebsi te:www.chicagoinspectorgeneral.org
Respectfully,Joseph
M.
FergusonInspector GeneralCity
of
Chicago
Hotline:866-IG-TIPLINE (866-448-4754)

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