Lagging on software updates has cost city taxpayers more than $100,000

Posted at 12:11 AM, Dec 19, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--A costly mistake in one city department is going to leave taxpayers paying more than $100,000 dollars in penalties.

Richmond’s Department of Information Technology recently discovered their software licenses were out of date.

"Software licensing is not something to be taken lightly," said computer expert Mike Gregory.

Gregory claimed sometimes that's easier said than done. We contacted him for some insight in to software licensing after learning the situation with Richmond’s DIT.

"The public sector should have the correct personnel in place to police this," said Gregory. 

The mayor’s office told CBS 6 that it was a self-audit of DIT that found things weren't up to speed and to bring their account in to good standing the city paid $445,000 dollars the vendor that provides the software.  

When we asked for a more detailed explanation of that money we were told that $117,696 dollars of that cost was interest on the overdue account.

In other words, money that would not have to be spent if the city had paid the costs on time.

"There needs to be people assigned as part of their job description and make sure they're kept up to date," said Gregory 

That same recommendation was made to DIT five years ago in an audit report that specifically addressed software licensing in the department. The audit warned then that if DIT did not put better checks and balances in place then expired or never purchased licenses found in the audit could cost the city huge civil and even criminal penalties. 
Gregory said that was good advice because this is a preventable problem.

“We would not be paying this as taxpayers here in the city of Richmond if our IT department had been on top of this,” said Gregory.

The mayor’s office confirms that the Director of DIT, Annette Flowers, remains on approved leave that Flowers herself requested.

They confirm further that the current Director of Finance is acting in her place. City hall sources say Flowers has been out of the office since September.