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Auditor: Improper software implementation cost city

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond government could have wasted almost 20 million of taxpayer dollars, according to a report from the city auditor's office. It says software used for the city's major financial, human resources, procurement and retirement systems was not properly implemented.

According to the city auditor, a lot is on the line here. He says problems with this system mean city bills are not getting paid on time, employee leave balances are incorrect so Richmond is paying people for hours they didn't earn and workers could have access to sensitive information, they shouldn't.

Fireworks erupted at city hall Tuesday as officials took issue with the auditor's report on the rollout of city software. There were heated exchanges between city officials and city council members, and city officials and members of the audit committee.

"RAPIDS" is the software that replaces systems like payroll, accounts payable, retirement and financial information. It touches every city agency and every city employee.

"The ‘RAPIDS' project is a success from our standpoint," Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Sharon Judkins maintained. "The modules are all in and available. The issue I still say is one that we are working with everyday and we're focusing on very hard is to ensure that the vendor payments are being made."

City Auditor Umesh Dalal says that's not the only issue. "RAPIDS" was not implemented correctly, according to him. For example, he says, the department didn't have standards during implementation, there was no plan for what would happen if the system didn't work and users weren't properly trained.

"We have 200,000 plus people that we're trying to be good stewards of taxpayer money," City Council President Charles Samuels, who also sits on the audit committee, explained. "If an issue comes up regardless of how it comes up and a DCAO is aware of it and doesn't do anything with it that causes me grave concern."

That grave concern is magnified, according to auditors, because of the possibility of consequences for years to come.

"These are financial personnel systems so you have potential for fraud and sabotage that just really needs to be checked out," auditor Bob Baker added.

After debate Tuesday, the city auditor is going to go back and reorganize some of the findings to make sure the right officials are responding on a city-wide basis. This could fix issues so they don't get repeated on a larger scale.

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