Internal watchdogs discover warehouse surplus

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Most of the value offered by warehouse inventory management software involves increasing operational oversight of supply chain operations, ensuring that deliveries are made swiftly and identifying overstocked units that can be removed from future orders. Another use for this technology, however, is to identify instances of criminal behavior involving the theft of goods by a company’s own employees.

The Washington Times reported that a Maryland-based warehouse contractor hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee operations at one of the government agency’s facilities was discovered to have been housing numerous pieces of surplus equipment and supplies in what one official described as “deplorable conditions.”

When government investigators arrived at the scene, they found that employees of the independent contractor had used the government equipment to establish their own personal gym as well as furnish personal offices with television sets. EPA officials reported that poor surveillance camera coverage combined with the strategic placement of furniture and posters allowed the warehouse workers to operate without being monitored by the agency.

Officials discovered that aside from the areas used for ostensibly recreational activity, much of the warehouse had fallen into disarray. Investigators found documents containing the personal information of federal employees stored in unsecured containers. In addition, a shipment of appliances reportedly received in 2007, along with one containing furniture from 2008, were discovered unopened.

The wasteful use of storage space
Although the total cost that the unused or dilapidated equipment represents to taxpayers has yet to be determined, The Washington Free Beacon reported that the EPA leased the warehouse for approximately $750,000 each year. The incident has raised concerns regarding the monitoring systems used by the EPA and other government agencies to ensure that their independent contractors are not wasting taxpayer resources.

“Our initial research at the EPA’s Landover warehouse raised significant concerns with the lack of agency oversight of personal property and warehouse space at the facility,” the investigators’ report stated. “EPA management confirmed they had not visited the warehouse before the Office of Inspector General briefed the agency over concerns with poor oversight of the storage facility.”

Moving forward, government agencies as well as private businesses can prevent similar incidents from occurring by utilizing warehouse inventory management software. With these tools in hand, leaders from various areas of operation can monitor warehouse inventory movement and identify suspicious activity that may suggest impropriety. In addition, warehouse managers can deploy timekeeping software to gain some oversight on their employees’ daily activities. This way, even without directly watching workers on the job each day, managers can be certain that they are staying on task.