Written records invite skimming, says accountant reviewing Pittsburgh finances
By Bob Bauder
Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Pittsburgh still uses pencil and paper to record some cash transactions, according to a financial accountant who is examining the city's books.
William G. Krieger, managing director for Downtown-based Gleason & Associates, on Wednesday said staff uncovered potential for skimming money and, in one case, an off-the-books bank account used to pay baseball umpires.
“This was very small dollars and very low risk in terms of the city,” Krieger said of the unauthorized checking account used for a Citiparks program. “While there are opportunities for cash-skimming, we have not observed any situations where there was fraud or cash-skimming.”
Gleason was retained by Pittsburgh's Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, one of the city's two state-appointed financial oversight boards, to review cash-management policies along with the Controller's Office. The ICA called for the review after the FBI charged former police Chief Nate Harper in February with skimming city money through an unauthorized account.
The ICA, which has the authority to approve city budgets, met to resolvedifferences with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration over issues including implementation of a financial management system that was supposed to be in place last year. The ICA threatened sanctions, including revoking approval of the city budget and withholding state aid.
Chuck Half, innovation and performance manager for the city, said it is seeking bids for software and should have the system completely online by 2014.
ICA Chairman Dana Yealy said he was satisfied with the response.
“The change in the attitude and behavior, it was embracing the need to work cooperatively,” he said after the meeting. “What you heard today were people continuing to make a commitment to work together.”
Krieger described a hodgepodge accounting system more suitable for the Dark Ages.
He noted that in some cases, the same person receiving cash also records the transaction and deposits the money. He said the review also uncovered instances where deposits are being made only once per year and cash registers are not used regularly.
“With certain departments, this is not inconsistent of what we would see in any organization,” he said.
Controller Michael Lamb said his office has advocated for a standard cash management policy and found similar problems during audits. He said much of what the review uncovered centered on volunteers handling small amounts of money at senior centers and recreation centers.
“We still want to be sure that it's properly accounted for,” he said.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Side market’s ‘good run’ comes to end
- Sandy Hook 911 calls fuel sensitivity debate
- Pittsburgh Foundation’s Wishbook features 48 nonprofits
- Nonprofits’ fiscal issues investigated by state Attorney General Kane
- Pittsburgh Poison Center warns of krokodil
- Feds to oversee PHEAA, other student loan contractors
- Drug company buys Duquesne prof’s cancer research
- Smaller transit service funds intact under new Pa. transportation plan