New Richmond DSS head asks auditor to investigate department

Posted at 2:28 PM, Feb 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-20 19:31:35-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The new Interim Director of Richmond’s troubled Department of Social Services has asked Richmond City Auditor Umesh Dalal for a financial, efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance audit of three particular programs at the agency.

In a letter obtained by CBS 6, David Hicks asked Dalal to conduct an audit of the Administration and Finance, Economic Support and Independence, and the Comprehensive Services Act.

Specifically, Hicks asked Dalal to look into DSS’s finances, the efficiency and effectiveness of programs, and the agency’s compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations.

Dalal said the audit request will have to be approved by the audit committee, as well as city council, before he can start his review.

So, what are some of the problems the audit might reveal?

CBS 6 Investigative Reporter Melissa Hipolit obtained copies of several monthly reports conducted by the former Interim Head of Social Services, Tonya Vincent, last year.

Those reports highlighted many of the problems the entire department is facing.

In a September 2013 report, Vincent cited numerous challenges that every department within DSS faced, including staffing issues.

Vincent cited a large number of vacant positions, and the impending retirement of 19 employees, as the reason why “program staff (across the board) continue to struggle to meet performance benchmarks.”

“We continue to lose staff in key areas that make it difficult to meet the demand for services and assistance,” Vincent wrote.

Vincent also cited a bad work environment at the department.

“We are continuing to hear issues regarding low morale and a negative work environment,” Vincent wrote.