Auditor releases investigation into Atlanta Watershed

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ATLANTA - A newly released preliminary report shows how an auditor plans to scrutinize all aspects of the Atlanta Department of Watershed after multiple reports of theft and mismanagement.

Channel 2's Dave Huddleston obtained the report that comes after calls for an investigation by Mayor Kasim Reed, the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta City Council.

Channel 2 Action News has reported on thefts that cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, questions raised about overtime, pay increases and leadership questions inside the department.

The initial report explains that an investigation will last 10 weeks with five to six auditors scrutinizing the department's management team.

It also points out problems uncovered in a preliminary investigation, including cameras and card keys to facilities turned off during business hours at the office of safety and security.

"We have an issue here and it's critical to me," councilwoman Felicia Moore told Huddleston.

Moore said she's determined to get to the root of the problems.

"I am going to keep pressing until I am sure that we make some adjustment in management or management gets it that there are problems and seeks to solve this," Moore said.

Moore said large pay increases were issued to stay competitive with similar cities. Reed rescinded the raises after they were brought to his attention.

Department of Watershed spokesperson Scheree Rawles sent a statement to Huddleston late Tuesday. Rawles said current Watershed Commissoner JoAnn Macrina started an "18-month examination of technical, financial and management issues across Watershed Management. An area of concern identified was inadequate inventory control systems at warehouses." 

"Watershed Management’s seven warehouses were previously managed individually without checks and balances. In 2013, warehouses were centralized and the Commissioner initiated a move to a single software system to manage inventory procedures. Additionally, Watershed Management hired a third-party expert to assess inventory and warehouse controls, and we are currently implementing the expert’s recommendations," Rawles continued.

"In the meantime, we welcome the city auditor’s review of our processes and procedures.  We are in the business of continuous improvement," Rawles said.

The city auditor's report should be complete in August.