PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A scathing new report shows Philadelphia’s Finance Department has some serious issues with how it handles the city’s cash. The report comes after an investigation revealed the city learned it did not know where $33 million from its largest cash account went as $28.6 million still remains missing.
“Philadelphia, by far, is the worst in terms of weaknesses in internal controls,” City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart says about the report her office released.
“In total, our office identified two material weaknesses and eight significant deficiencies,” she said.
In comparison to the 10 largest U.S. cities, Rhynhart says Philadelphia is dead last in terms of financial problems.
Those weaknesses include inadequate staffing and insufficient oversight of major financial accounts. For example, city tax accounts of up to $1 million can also be adjusted without supervisor approval.
Rhynhart’s report even says the city’s accountants use outdated software to keep track of what is coming in and out.
“Finance accountants use a combination of Excel, Word and Lotus 123 to prepare the city’s financial statements, and Lotus 123, for those that know, it is the predecessor to Excel and has been unsupported since 2014,” said Rhynhart.
Councilman Allan Domb has been spearheading the call for change. He believes it’s an important one since the issue of irregular reporting may affect other accounts and even more city money.
“We also have seven different accounts that have checks written and deposits made totaling over $40 billion over a seven-year period. None of that is missing, but we need to balance it to make sure it’s accurate,” said Domb.
City officials confirm the cash account where the money went missing was not reconciled for more than seven years. The last time Treasury Department officials checked money was entering or leaving the account was in September 2010.
Since then, the city has hired an outside auditing firm to find out where the cash is. That contract cost taxpayers another $500,000.