Signing off on buying new GPS trackers for all city vehicles was the easy part. Now Pawtucket officials begin the difficult task of ironing out the details of their move to create greater accountability for public employees.

City Council President David Moran said that Mayor Donald Grebien and his administration will be responsible for implementing the tracking systems, but council members plan to be involved each step of the way.
There are a number of questions and challenges to be resolved, said Moran, including deciding what kind of GPS trackers to install, how the trackers will be monitored, who monitors the system, when the system is monitored, what happens to those who are caught using their vehicle in an inappropriate way, and how to make the system immune to tampering.

Moran said he expects "open communication" between the mayor and council.
Grebien said this week that his administration will work together with the council to implement the GPS system. Public Works Director Lance Hill will lead the effort, he said.

He and his team will be looking to make this GPS system more than just an accountability tool, but a useful resource on such things as tracking which streets have already been plowed, said Grebien.
Hill will be looking at everyone's "needs and wants" on GPS, seeking proposals from companies based on different scenarios, said Grebien.

Grebien said he agrees with the council's stated desire to create greater accountability for city workers, even though he didn't see it as a big enough priority this year to spend the $118,000 that the council added to his budget. He said he understands there was some "political pressure" from the outside to get GPS devices in place.

Grebien said some of the biggest questions officials will need to figure out is who monitors the GPS systems and how. He said he imagines that someone within each of the public safety departments and public works will be able to monitor, and a member of his administration will probably have access to all departments.

The mayor said he doesn't expect a huge amount of savings from adding GPS, as he believes most city employees are using their vehicles only for work, but he said he agrees with the council that this is a "moral issue" that should be resolved for taxpayers.

Moran said he too believes that there are "many honest workers who are doing it by the book," but "certainly there are some people who may be abusing the system." Some people might be caught using their city cars inappropriately, said Moran, but the hope on the council's part is that adding GPS trackers will be more of a deterrent. If that happens, the initiative will prove a success, he said.

No one would be exempt from having a GPS tracking device on their vehicle unless there isn't enough money allotted to get all vehicles done, said Moran. The city will have to put the GPS system out to competitive bid, he said, and if the bids come back higher than $118,000, then they'll have to prioritize who gets the trackers. The $118,000 figure was just the number council members were initially told, said Moran, but the task could prove to be more expensive.

He said if the bids come in higher than expected, he'll want the council to hear a clear rationale from Grebien on who should be excluded from having a GPS tracker in the first year of the new system.

Officials estimate that there are about 300 city vehicles.

The Breeze reported last week that the City Council voted to add GPS to all city vehicles, including those taken home at night and the ones that stay in city lots. The key impetus behind finally adding GPS was the case of Maj. Bruce Moreau, who was caught by reporter Jim Hummel using his city vehicle for personal business, including numerous rounds of golf.

For the new GPS systems to be a success, said Moran, city residents will need to be sure that there are "safeguards" in place to make sure no city employee is able to tamper with the new system or find a loophole to continue acting inappropriately.

"We need to make sure it's not abused to protect the integrity of the system," he said. "Otherwise it will be a complete waste."

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