Peduto orders more oversight of smaller city purchases

An executive order that Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto issued Monday calls for oversight for smaller city purchases, the disclosure of departments’‍ petty cash funds and the creation of a new cash management policy.

“This is a step that we are taking to maintain our fiscal house in order” while the city finalizes plans to continue to operate under state financial oversight, mayoral chief of staff Kevin Acklin said at a morning news conference while Mr. Peduto was out of the country for a conference.

The new order requires city departments to receive Office of Management and Budget approval before they seek City Council authorization to make purchases of less than $2,000. Exactly how many acquisitions will fall into that category is unclear. Exceptions will be made for purchases that are part of an approved contract.

Mr. Acklin said previous city policy allowed departments to buy items worth less than $2,000 without OMB pre-approval and said, “We don’t think that’‍s a proper way to handle expenditures in the city.”

Controller Michael Lamb said he was not sure it was new to have OMB pre-approve those expenses but nevertheless welcomed the mayor’s order.

“I would agree that it is needed,” he said. “What we have seen in the last year is a lot of spending that has gone unchecked. It’‍s important to have some kind of budget control.”

Mr. Lamb said there are several departments “heading toward a very severe budget situation,” indicating the police bureau, personnel, the Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Bureau of Innovation and Performance.

The mayor’s executive order also requires that all departments inform the Department of Finance of any trust funds, petty cash pools or other accounts for oversight.

“I can’‍t tell you the accounts right now that are out there,” Mr. Acklin said.

The order also requires the OMB director to devise procedures outlining the use and accrual of overtime and comp time by non-union employees, pre-approval of departmental legislation and cash management procedures.

Some of the city’‍s money management procedures came under intense scrutiny last year after a part-time worker in the police bureau’‍s records room was charged with stealing from the bureau and amid a federal investigation that showed that former Chief Nate Harper and others in the bureau worked together to steal checks.

Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published June 23, 2014 12:00 AM

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