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DPW Engineer Used Telework To Hold A Second Full-Time Job, City OIG Says

Emily Sullivan/WYPR
Baltimore City Hall. On Tuesday, the Office of the Inspector General released a report detailing a Department of Public Works engineer who used telework to concurrently hold two full-time jobs.

An engineer at the Department of Public Works used his telework status to concurrently work two full-time jobs with overlapping hours, according to a new report from the Office of the Inspector General.

The unnamed Bureau of Water & Wastewater employee received authorization from the city to work remotely in March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic forced office workers to telework. Two months later, the employee received a job offer from an unnamed private company. According to that company, the employee’s resume said he worked at DPW from 2009 to 2020.

“The Company assumed the Engineer's tenure with the City had ended,” IG Isabel Mercedes Cumming wrote in a public synopsis of the investigation released Tuesday. “In 2021, the Engineer applied for an internal transfer within the Company, which prompted an employment review. During the review process, the Company discovered the Engineer had never ended their tenure with the City and had been working both jobs simultaneously.”

The engineer’s hours at DPW were 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. His schedule was nearly identical at the private company, where he was hired to work 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the same days.

The engineer is still employed by the city, according to the report; it is unclear if he is still employed at his second job. Cumming wrote that her office did not find any evidence that the engineer used any physical city resources, such as a work laptop, for their second job.

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled a slew of remote tech workers who hold down multiple full-time jobs without letting either employer know about the other, describing their telework as a constant juggle:

Alone in their home offices, they toggle between two laptops. They play “Tetris” with their calendars, trying to dodge endless meetings. Sometimes they log on to two meetings at once. They use paid time off—in some cases, unlimited—to juggle the occasional big project or ramp up at a new gig. Many say they don’t work more than 40 hours a week for both jobs combined. They don’t apologize for taking advantage of a system they feel has taken advantage of them.

Current city employment policies, which allow employees to have additional jobs so long as those jobs don’t violate Baltimore’s ethics law, do not explicitly mention teleworking and whether employees can overlap shifts. The OIG recommended that city officials expand the Concurrent City Employment Prohibition policy to address these gaps.

Many city workers are required to file an annual financial disclosure statement, which spells out an employee’s income streams and may identify potential conflicts of interest. Most DPW engineers are not required to file the disclosure, including the engineer at the heart of the report, who filed disclosures in 2017 and 2018.

“It’s possible if the Engineer had filed for 2020, their employment with the Company may have been disclosed to the City earlier,” Cumming wrote.

Baltimore’s telework policy requires an annual written telework agreement between an employee and their supervisor that spells out the terms and conditions of remote work, but the engineer did not sign such an agreement, which violates the city’s administrative manual.

DPW representatives told the OIG that the engineer’s lack of a telework agreement was a departmental oversight.

Tamiko Bryant, DPW’s human resources division chief, wrote in a memo included in the public synopsis that the agency is working to ensure that all teleworking employees have a signed agreement on file, evaluate telework authorization for employees with performance issues and will issue guidance to employees about second jobs.

She added that the city should consider enhancing its concurrent city employment policy to address overlapping shift times.

“As you know, the City’s policy on concurrent employment is under the authority of the City of Baltimore Department of Human Resources,” she wrote. “The Agency is open to collaborating with DHR if needed.”

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.