You, the taxpayer, might have missed out on $1 billion or more in free money because the geniuses at City Hall failed to coordinate their grant applications.

That's according to the latest audit from city Controller Wendy Greuel, whose office says today that …

… the lack of an effective centralized oversight unit to coordinate grant applications among the City's departments led to various oversights and ultimately reduced Los Angeles' share of competitive grant funding.

The Controller says that of $1.3 billion in grants sought by L.A., only $261 million was awarded.

A lack of coordination might have cost us. A lot. In fact, Greuel says, city departments could have gone for a lot more than just $1 billion.

The funds were being offered via the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but “the City failed to pursue all eligible funding opportunities,” according to Greuel's office.

The city dropped the ball on Economic Adjustment Assistance Funding as a result of a lack of bodies: ” … Furloughs and early retirement of staff” meant there weren't enough heads to write the grant, apparently.

Same goes, apparently, for Public Works and Economic Development Facilities funds.

LAX officials failed to apply for more than one grant available from federal Airport Improvement Program Funding. According to Greuel's office:

The review reveals that LAWA officials applied for the category they felt had the best chance of being funded and did not pursue other categories, though they were in line with the core mission and the City was eligible to apply for additional funding for other critical improvement projects.


The Controller found that the city was slower than a Teamster on payday in applying for these particular grants (average time: 5 months) and that there are — get this — no formal citywide guidelines for going for grants.


Of course, Greuel wants the city to adopt a centralized grant-oversight unit and to come up with guidelines that all departments can follow:

In these difficult economic times, it is crucial for the City to pool resources and expertise between departments to streamline grant approvals and get the funding in the pipeline. I urge the City Council to establish and empower a Centralized Oversight Unit to make sure that the City does not miss out on accessible federal support.

Yeah, next time your car dives into a pothole that destroys your tire and cracks your wheel, remember that L.A. can't fix its worst-in-the-nation streets, but that its overpaid employees (average city salary: $72,000-a-year) have ample freedom and luxury to pass up free money.

[@dennisjromero / / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly