New York City will track the whereabouts of its 379 building inspectors with GPS technology installed, not in their city-issued vehicles, but in their cell phones.

[Update below.]

The AP story on the tracking system made headlines across the nation.

The new scrutiny comes after an inspector was charged last year with faking a report that he had inspected a crane days before it collapsed and killed seven people. Electrical, construction, elevator, crane and other inspectors will now have GPS tracking on their mobile phones so that department heads can follow their movements in real time through a web-based program.

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said the system will “ensure inspectors reach their assigned locations and are held accountable for their important work.”

The tracking system will store inspectors’ travel in a database. It also will allow supervisors to locate the nearest inspector in the event of a building-related emergency.

union official was less than enthusiastic about the program, which is being phased in this month, according to the New York Times.

Joseph M. Corso, the president of Local 211 of the Allied Building Inspectors Union, which represents most Buildings Department inspectors, said the initial response from members employed by the agency was one of disappointment. “Just like the Justice Department monitors parolees and those under house arrest, they’ll have a tracking device,” he said of the inspectors. “We’re going to do all we can to ensure the rights of the membership are covered.

But one inspector who did not want to give his name said, “If you are where you’re supposed to be, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

Inspectors usually carry their city-issued cell phones when they are off-duty.

The Buildings Department’s chief spokesman, Tony Sclafani, said the agency would monitor the inspectors only while on duty.

“The software enables the tracking system to be fixed to the work schedule of each inspector,” Mr. Sclafani said. “When the shift ends, the tracking system will turn off.”

Update: An alert reader noted a story in New York Post Tuesday about an corruption probe involving building inspectors.

At least six city building inspectors — some with ties to a powerful crime family — were videotaped taking bribes at construction sites, and some were seen dealing cocaine and prescription pills while on duty, The Post has learned.

The corrupt Department of Buildings workers–who lined their pockets by ignoring violations or expediting construction and building work permits–will be arrested later this month, along with about two dozen Luchese crime-family captains, soldiers and associates, sources said.

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch

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