Apparently, the finance department of the San Francisco Housing Authority can't balance its own checkbook.
That was the big reveal of a city controller's report released Thursday that identified a number of problems that led to major errors in account balances and prevented city officials from getting a clear picture of the agency's funding needs.
The controller's City Services Auditor Division began its assessment in June 2015 and ended it last September, using bank statements, emails, ledger data and interviews with top Housing Authority finance personnel to evaluate how the department was managing its money.
The report's conclusions were grim.
It showed the department had filled its monthly bank reconciliations with numerous inaccuracies — when it had done them at all.
The report went on to note that some Housing Authority accountants and analysts were prone to make basic errors, such as throwing out supporting documents and entering data in spreadsheets without explanation.
Some employees were frequently absent from work, the report said, suggesting "a lack of commitment to (the Housing Authority) and to the work for which they are responsible." Key management positions were left vacant.
On top of all that, the department staff seemed to have little interest in separating and documenting money from different sources. Before October 2015, the department lumped the agency's restricted public housing and Section 8 funds into one general fund bank account. And finance staff routinely overlooked the Housing Authority's capital budget in the annual budget proposals they submitted to the city.
The controller recommended top-to-bottom reforms, saying the department should raise salaries for its highly specialized positions, start using the same finance software as the rest of the city, and get in the habit of cross-referencing its accounting records with its bank statements.
But it's up to the Housing Authority to make those changes.
Tribune Content Agency