Controller Butkovitz Reveals $300,000 in High-Tech Equipment Missing

For Immediate Release
Sept. 13, 2017

Contact:  Brian Dries
215-686-8869

Controller Butkovitz Reveals $300,000 in High-Tech Equipment Missing
City Controller says missing items included a generator, defibrillator & a jackhammer 

PHILADELPHIA - City Controller Alan Butkovitz today issued an audit of the City of Philadelphia’s equipment inventory system that found half of the computers and other high-tech equipment sampled for review could not be located.

Of the 350 items sampled from the city’s equipment inventory list, 187 items with a value of $300,151 could not be found by auditors.  There were 29 city departments represented in the sample. Some of the highest-dollar items that could not be found included:

Item Department  Value
GPS System Office of Innovation & Technology  $16,665
Life Pak 12 Defibrillator Fire Department $14,997
Generator Fleet Management $12,326
Dell 192 GB Server Police Department $11,844
Thermal Imaging Camera Fire Department $8,611


“It is unacceptable for more than $300,000 in high-tech equipment to disappear,” said Controller Butkovitz.  “Some of the items are utilized for life-saving responses, and the necessity of safeguarding such valuable equipment cannot be overstated.”

Other items that could not be found included desktop and notebook computers, portable communication radios, cameras, a sound system, pool vacuum, commercial lawn mower, jackhammer and a mountain bicycle.

The city spent an average of $33 million annually from 2014 to 2016 to update their personal property. Expenditures for computer equipment alone averaged $6.8 million each year.

“The city cannot afford to lose or misplace equipment that serves a vital function for departments to operate properly,” said Controller Butkovitz.  “The city needs an effective inventory system to maintain accountability over its equipment.”

In addition, the City Controller’s audit determined that more than 4,700 portable electronics and other high-tech equipment valued at more than $7 million were listed on the inventory list as Could Not Be Located (CNL). This means the departments indicated the items were no longer in its possession but they remained on the inventory list. While CNL items are supposed to be removed from the list after three years, some remained on the records despite being missing for more than 20 years.

“There is sophisticated, smart technology available the city should pursue in order to better maintain its inventory,” said Controller Butkovitz.  “If the city wants to improve its procurement practices, it needs to start with how it manages its equipment inventory.”

The City Controller also recommended that the Procurement and Finance departments require individual departments to perform an annual equipment inventory.

“Any department that fails to submit a timely inventory count should result in possible loss or delay of future equipment purchases,” said Controller Butkovitz.

Other recommendations from the City Controller include the following:

  • The Procurement Department should remove all CNL items from the inventory database after receiving authorization from Finance.
  • All departments should where applicable maintain internal records that show the name of the person to whom the asset was issued, the inventory tag number and other identifying features and what unit it was assigned.
  • All departments should inform the Procurement Department when assets are moved from one location to another. 

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