As a result of a lack of vigilance and accounting oversight, DCPS discovered a $17 million shortfall when closing out the 16/17 annual budget. This is both unfortunate and inexcusable. The result will put additional pressure on next year’s budget and the ability to fund programs that have brought our district unprecedented success.
When Superintendent Willis discovered the error, she acted swiftly, decisively and correctly. I was impressed with her response and support her plan for corrective action. This plan includes changing the leadership for our financial division.
This problem occurred due to a lack of peer review and oversight in the budget function. I have recommended to the board, time and time again, that we should fortify our budget review process – in the board office – and bring increased scrutiny to the budget. I also recommended the board auditor provide additional review of budget documents submitted to the board – and this has been taking place in recent months. A further recommendation I have offered in the past year is the creation of a “Auditor/Inspector General” function within the district. Regrettably, the board did not act on increasing peer review of the budget and the results of this lack of action are apparent.
I have recommended directly to Superintendent Willis to increase the peer review of the budget process as it moves through the yearly cycle and to install failsafe mechanisms as part of the process to minimize the potential for future problems like the one we see today. Additionally, I am recommending the COJ Office of Inspector General provide an investigation into the current financial error and to provide a third party review of the origin of the problem.