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Advisory Regarding the Management of Municipal License Plates Registered to City of Chicago Vehicles

Report Details

Report Description: 
OIG found that the municipal license plate inventory the Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS) manages does not match the Illinois Secretary of State (ILSOS) database of municipal plates issued to the City. Approximately 7,000 municipal license plates issued by ILSOS for City vehicles are unaccounted for at AIS. Without an accurate database and regular audit of the City’s municipal license plates, AIS is unable to account for and track the possession and use of all municipal license plates assigned to the City, resulting in, among other things, a significant risk of abuse and misconduct with municipal plates and vehicles within the City’s fleet. OIG’s review of AIS’ records discovered disjointed datasets and lists and multiple outdated recordkeeping practices. OIG also found that AIS’ municipal license plate records are incomplete and inaccurate or outdated. AIS’ current practices also lack effective quality control and auditing measures to ensure that license plates are properly registered and affixed to City vehicles or properly destroyed after the end of service. Without regular audits of the municipal plate inventory, thousands of discrepancies between ILSOS and AIS records have developed over time. Accordingly, AIS is unable to accurately account for all the license plates within its physical possession and is unable to verify that all license plates currently registered to City vehicles are properly affixed to the correct vehicle within the M5 database. The existence of thousands of unaccounted municipal license plates poses serious safety and security issues for the City. Lost or misplaced license plates could be attached to non-City vehicles, allowing those vehicles to be illegally driven and improperly used. With improperly registered plates, City vehicles involved in traffic accidents or violations could create liability issues. Furthermore, allowing plates to be registered to multiple vehicles and failing to account for when the plates are swapped between vehicles provides ripe opportunity for City vehicles to be abused, misappropriated, or misused in violation of City policies or rules.
Date Issued: 
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Agency Reviewed / Investigated: 
Chicago, IL
United States
Cook County
Type of Report: 
Advisory Reports
Professional Standard: 
GAO's Yellow Book, Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS)

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