According to a report released in August, the finance department of the San Francisco Housing Authority is having issues balancing its own checkbook. The report came from San Francisco’s city controller and it identified a number of problems that led to major errors in account balances that 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 revealed 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. The report noted that some employees were frequently absent from work and it suggested
A lack of commitment to (the Housing Authority) and to the work for which they are responsible.
Key management positions have been left vacant, which may help explain why the Housing Authority is so disorganized. To make matters worse, it appears the department staff seemed to have little interest in separating and documenting money from different sources. For example, before October 2015, the department combined the agency’s restricted public housing and Section 8 funds into one general fund bank account. Finance staff also routinely overlooked the Housing Authority’s capital budget in the annual budget proposals they submitted to the city. Because of all of these indiscretions, 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.