A new report from the Office of the D.C. Auditor revealed the District paid out $72 million in lawsuits and other settlements and judgements during a recent 18-month period.
The report shows that from October 2017 through March 2019, the Metropolitan Police Department spent more than $14.9 million in settlements and judgements, which was almost 2% of the agency’s entire operating budget for the same time period.
D.C. Public Schools paid out $13.4 million — almost 1% of its budget for that period.
The report said the D.C. Department of Transportation paid $4.5 million in settlements and judgements, which was almost 3% of its budget.
And the D.C. Department of Human Resources paid $1.4 million — almost 5% of its total budget.
“This is a mess, and we are the nation’s capital,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp said.
Krepp initially asked city officials for an accounting of payments for sexual harassment cases, which totaled about $600,000.
D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson said her office’s audit found the District lacks a unified system to track and reduce the amount of money it pays out for harm, or alleged harm, to people or property.
“There does seem to be a commitment to do a better job,” she said. “We have had no real focus on controlling risks even though we created an office of risk management 17 years ago.”
One of the report’s recommendations is to have the mayor approve all settlements and judgements over $500,000.
The report also revealed an almost $30 million difference between the amount of payouts the agencies reported to the D.C. Council and the amount determined through the audit.