After FBI Busts Building Inspectors Taking Bribes, GPS Tracking Devices on the Way

Recently the FBI caught two building inspectors in Los Angeles County taking bribes in exchange for signing off on construction work. Now LA County says they want to start using GPS tracking devices to monitor all of their building inspectors.

According to FBI documents filed last week, the FBI bust involved an undercover informant and two building inspectors caught on videotape taking bribes in exchange for the approval of construction work. In some instances inspections were not even conducted. The informant paid over 40 bribes to the shady building inspectors. Bribes included cash, free building materials, free labor and,  a free vacation.

Building and Safety spokesman David Lara told the LA Times that his department sent a series of recommendations to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, including a move to use GPS tracking devices for all building inspectors in the future. “For us, it’s mostly about making sure our inspectors are where they’re supposed to be,” Lara said. “With the latest turn of events, it’s too bad that we’ve had to take that type of measure. But we feel in the long run it would provide better control for our supervisors.”

Lara said GPS tracking technology also would ensure that inspectors showed up for their appointments on time. “It’s not just to be big brother. We want to have effective tools to make sure not only that we have better control of where our staff is, but so we can create efficiencies in communication and time.”

Here’s basically how the GPS tracking system would work. A wireless network is used to stream the GPS tracking data over the Internet. Supervisors are able to log onto any computer with a secure password and access code, and “watch” their workers go about their shifts, almost exactly as it is happening, called real-time GPS tracking. The workers’ travels are usually shown over a map and are also available in a chart, or in a GPS tracking text report.

In New York City in 2008, a building inspector was cited for filing a false report of a crane inspection in Manhattan. The construction equipment collapsed about 10 days after his reported inspection and seven people died. Investigators determined that the employee had never visited the site.

The department spokesman admitted GPS tracking would have flagged that false report. GPS tracking would also allow supervisors to easily find employees who have lost contact with the office. These are a few of the reasons the Building Dept. decided it was time to start using a GPS tracking system to monitor employees.

Shortly after this event, the City decided to start monitoring all 379 of its building inspectors with a GPS tracking system. Now managers in the Dept. of Buildings in New York can manage dozens or even hundreds of workers on a shift, being able to visually confirm by GPS tracking if an employee is where he is supposed to be. A record of daily travels can also be kept, to compare GPS tracking coordinates against employee daily reports and time cards. In addition to putting an end to employee time-card abuse, the  GPS tracking systems are helping to run the department more efficiently and be more responsible with taxpayers’ money.

Using a GPS tracking system to monitor employees is not a new thing. Thousands of companies across the US actively do this everyday. If you would like to find out more information about how GPS tracking can help you better manage your employees, please click here.


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