Three city of Ottawa employees resigned last year following tips to the city's fraud and waste hotline, including an OC Transpo bus driver accused of driving part of the route with the "Out of Service" sign on.

Meantime, one city employee was fired for submitting falsified vaccination status documents.

In a report for Tuesday's Audit Committee meeting, Auditor General Nathalie Gougeon said 301 tips were filed to the fraud and waste hotline in 2021, a 48 per cent increase from 2020.  Another 274 reports similar in nature were also submitted to the hotline.

Gougeon says the results of the investigations include one employee terminated, three employees resigned and 13 employees suspended without pay.

The report says a bus driver resigned after the city found they drove part of their route with the destination sign indicating they were "Out of Service" and did not stop to pick-up passengers.

In another case, management reported to the Auditor General that a supervisor had questioned specific purchases that were made by an employee on their city-issued credit card.

"The employee acknowledged that some of the purchases were unauthorized and were not related to city business," the report says, adding management and the union reached a settlement for the employee to resign.

In the case of the third resignation, Gougeon's report says three city employees regularly left work for extended periods of time to get coffee, using city vehicles, during working hours.

"They were smoking in the City vehicle and not wearing masks. The employees did not record their absences and falsified their time records in a City system," said the report.

The three employees were charged under Ottawa's Smoking Bylaw and the city's Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw, and each received 30-day suspensions.

The report says the investigation found that their supervisor had approved the employees trips to get coffee. In addition, the auditor general found the supervisor regularly used the city's internet for personal use.

"The supervisor resigned in lieu of termination," the report said.

Suspended without pay

The auditor general's report says 13 employees were suspended without pay following tips to the fraud and waste hotline.

An employee was suspended for five days after an investigation, which included the use of GPS data, found there were multiple incidents where an employee driving a city vehicle for work-related purposes drove at an average speed of "more than 25 km/h over the posted speed limit."

Two employees were suspended for one day for not wearing masks inside a city vehicle.

An employee was suspended for three days after the auditor general found they were conducting personal business, selling goods, at a city facility during both breaks and normal working hours.

The hotline was launched in 2005 in order to facilitate the reporting of suspected fraud or waste by municipal employees. It's operated independently by a third party, WhistleBlower Security.