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Pittsburgh Controller Launches Watchdog App to Report City Fraud

The PGHWatchdog App lets user anonymously report any suspected misuse of public funds, which will help city officials track down any fraud and correct it.

by Lexi Belculfine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / April 8, 2016

(TNS) -- Pittsburgh residents and employees who suspect the fraud, theft or waste of city dollars can now report it through a mobile app.

“We have employees in every neighborhood in the city. We have citizens who are watching them. This gives an opportunity for citizens to immediately report any of that kind of activity that they believe to be waste or misuse,” City Controller Michael Lamb said, announcing the launch of PGHWatchdog on Thursday morning.

He also encouraged people to report things that do not seem right when interacting with the city, whether while obtaining a permit, going to an ice rink or at any point-of-sale services.

“In those neighborhood areas where there is money changing hands,we want to make sure there are proper controls in place. Even though a lot of times we’re talking about small dollars, it’s still public money. And so we want to make sure we have as many eyes on this situation as there can be,” Mr. Lamb said.

PGHWatchdog, which is available for free in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play, was developed for $20,000 by software company called Purple Forge and requires $3,000 for ongoing maintenance.

The app allows users to file tips anonymously.

It also links to resources such as Open Book Pittsburgh, which tracks campaign finance reports, contracts and lobbyists; Fiscal Focus Pittsburgh, an interactive view of the budget; audits and reports; as well as the city’s unclaimed property website.

A fraud hotline was launched in 2013 and has received about 50 tips, some of which resulted in audits and referrals to the Office of Municipal Investigations, which looks into complaints against city employees.

©2016 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.