Concerns raised after city director calls for audit halt

Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-14 19:04:01-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--In May a fired contractor on a city project told CBS6 he lost his job after blowing the whistle on waste and abuse he had observed on the job.

"The allegations were pretty severe," said city council member Charles Samuels.

It was shortly after those allegations that city council voted to investigate by way of an audit.  

"If money has been lost we want to stop that as quickly as possible," said Samuels.

The name of the project in question is RAPIDS; the goal is to install new city wide software that would streamline city finances.

The contractor alleged the mismanagement of project funds, hiring unqualified staff and accounting errors in overtime pay for city employees.

The contractor’s claims caused the audit that has been underway for some time but a little over a week ago the head of the city finance, Sharon Judkins, wrote a memo asking that it be halted.

"Anytime you have someone saying I don't want to do an audit, I begin to think about what's going on here," said city council member Bruce Tyler. 

Judkins argued in her memo the audit would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. She claimed it would also require 1600 hours of work and put further strain on city resources.

Yesterday City Auditor Umesh Dalal wrote a memo responding to Judkins and called her estimations inaccurate, grossly overstated and urged that they must be disregarded. Dalal said the audit should go on and asked council to vote accordingly.

"It's critical right now to be doing this audit because I in some ways it probably should have been done a lot earlier," said Tyler.

The project completion date has already been delayed a year until next July.  

CBS 6 attempted to speak with the director of finances, but our request went unanswered.