By Adam Andrzejewski
Two recent audits from Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry’s office found “fiscal oversight issues” with the Department of Public Works and Department of Finance, including that almost half of the DPW’s timesheets were missing and Finance had unidentified receipts.
This is as the two departments get a combined almost $1 billion in funding in fiscal year 2022, according to the city budget (see p. 86).
While the DPW got $937 million in combined funding from the city budget, grants and capital project funding, the comptroller’s Department of Audits found in a biennial financial audit of the agency’s 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, that the DPW “must modernize and update its payroll, internal payment and purchase order practices,” according to a comptroller’s office press release.
DPW couldn’t provide documentation “for selected FY 2020 payroll activities for testing nor demonstrate if payroll was recorded accurately,” the audit found.
Of the sampled payroll records, 47 percent were missing timesheets and 26 percent were missing approval for overtime, compensatory time or leave, the comptroller’s office found on page 20 of the report.
The audit also found that DPW didn’t properly track the finances for its Internal Service Fund, which is used to track goods and services for other city agencies. Finally, the audit noted that due to both system and agency issues, DPW had purchase orders that were not closed by FY 2020.
DPW concurred with the findings and agreed to begin using the Workday program for payroll processing, and for managing purchase order issues, and to work with the Human Resources Department to make other modifications to how it executes payroll.
DPW also noted that it doesn’t manage the Internal Service Fund anymore, having shifted that responsibility to the Department of General Services in 2020.
As for the Department of Finance, which got almost $40 million in funding in 2022, the report found problems with its receipts. While various sources paid money to the city, the Bureau of Accounting and Payroll Services didn’t know which account it should be posted to.
These unidentified receipts were an issue because until the revenue is posted, the amount is shown as a city liability, the comptroller’s office reported.
The Department of Audits looked at 60 unidentified receipts totaling $16.5 million, which represents about 46 percent of the $35.9 million in total unidentified receipts found. It found appropriate records for 49 unidentified receipts, with the other 11 (totaling $938,000) remaining unidentified.
The unidentified receipts were due to a lack of proper recording, employee learning curves and slow response times from agencies, among other things, the audit found. The Department of Finance agreed to Department of Audits’ recommendations, and among other actions, will continue to move its finances to Workday.
“I’m glad that our agencies are eager to start using Workday to better track payroll, receipts and other fiscal responsibilities, but it’s not a cure-all,” Comptroller Bill Henry said in a statement. “Any tool is only as good as the person using it. We’re going to want to see progress on that front in future audits.”
Finance Director Henry Raymond, was supposed to have retired at the end of March, but he is still at the helm, with no new retirement date announced. He will collect an estimated annual pension of $153,223 when he does retire. In 2021, he was one of the highest paid Baltimore City employees, with a salary of $233,465.