RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of families depend on Richmond's Department of Social Services for things like food stamps and other benefits, but according to the city auditor, the people charged with keeping track of how those benefits are doled out are coming under fire.
Richmond City Auditor Umesh Dalal's latest 20-page report details overpayments to DSS clients and how the investigators hired to recoup that money do an inadequate job.
In one example, a DSS client received roughly $5200 over a 16-month period because the client failed to disclose the correct number of people in the household.
Another instance found that if the client does not pay the amount owed, a letter is sent to the client's last known address. But if that address is wrong, the auditor discovered that DSS's own fraud unit made no effort to find the correct address from the case worker.
Dalal also outlined DSS overpayments from fiscal year 2012 through 2014:
- FY2012 - $325,000
- FY2013 - $475,000
- FY2014 - $300,000
And the auditor found that out of 15 cases with high overpayment amounts, eight of them were in collections. The tally for those eight accounts alone is $60,000, which is owed to the city. Of that amount, DSS's fraud unit only collected about $604 or 1 percent from this amount.
Richmond DSS Interim-Director DepartmentDavid Hicks released the following statement to CBS 6:
“The Richmond Department of Social Services manages programs and services that provide financial support to help improve the quality of life for the city’s residents, many times during very desperate circumstances. We concur with all of the recommendations made within the audit report and will review processes and procedures to improve performance and collection efforts."