Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement managers and staff have failed to account for $120,471.95 in credit card expenditures since March 2016.
In all, 33 ONI staffers have access to a city-issued credit card, as did former bureau director Amalia Alarcón de Morris, who resigned last month. City staff are required to submit all receipts for the purchases every month, but ONI as a bureau has failed to account for its staff's spending in 11 of the last 12 months.
For July of 2016, the bureau missed the deadline, but ultimately submitted receipts for more than $13,000 in purchases to the city's Procurement Services office, as required.
Interim ONI Director David Austin, who has been on the job only since March 22, took the unusual step of asking all 33 staff members to turn in their credit cards by end of day today.
It's the latest indication that the bureau suffered from mismanagement under Alarcón de Morris.
A November report by the city auditor found that the bureau had failed to fund neighborhood coalitions equitably and had no plans to fix the problem.
The revelations of accounting problems raise the question of financial misdeeds, though Austin says there's "no indication" of any spending improprieties at this point.
"There's no indication that anyone bought anything that was outside of a connection to work," he says. "We knew that there were some issues with the bureau. This is a reminder that we have to continually be on the lookout for issues around public spending. We need to be transparent about those. We need to be wiling to acknowledge problems and fix them immediately."
ONI is embarking on a thorough review by managers of all expenditures dating back to March 2016. By Monday, the bureau will turn receipts or paperwork to document the expenditures, and a meeting is called for Thursday for all ONI staffers with credit cards, Austin says.
"This is not an exercise. This is a new order of the day," he says.
Alarcón de Morris last month agreed to resign in exchange for a severance payment of a year's salary.
The city's procurement officer threatened to seize the ONI credit cards this month if the bureau missed its deadline again for submitting receipts.
In an email to Austin on Monday, Amy Archer, the bureau's operation manager, discussing the problem, noted, "This is a serious issue we have discussed repeatedly."
Wheeler's office praised Eudaly's work with the bureau.
The mayor "appreciates that Commissioner Eudaly is taking a look under the hood of her bureaus, identifying problems, and tackling them head-on," says mayoral spokesman Michael Cox.