Amidst a changing administration at Allegheny County’s Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, County Controller has unveiled her investigation of certain internal controls and safeguards against waste and mismanagement. The report, released today, shows flaws in the administration and internal controls of payroll processing, timekeeping, off-book accounts, and the safeguarding of residents’ belongings.
“While these flaws are not all unique to the Shuman Center from other county departments, it is evident that the Shuman Center leadership during this period did not properly administer all of these functions nor did the County provide adequate support and oversight to ensure proper controls were in place,” Controller Wagner said.
The most revealing finding of the report was the utter lack of controls in existence for two funds created to improve the lives of Shuman residents. Wagner’s report details serious flaws and a lack of checks and balance for these two funds, but did not find significant waste or abuse. Wagner’s report also details common flaws in payroll and timekeeping administration, often found in other County Departments, as well. The difference, however, was the Shuman’s administration of these functions were not monitored as regularly or closely by the Administration as other departments. A random sample of time kept for a group of employees found two overpayments, totaling $894.16 and $993.62, respectively, and over $12,000 in improperly recorded sick time.
“We look forward to working with the County Manager and the new administration at Shuman to strengthen their internal controls and better safeguard taxpayer funds from abuse and mismanagement,” Wagner said. “Many of these issues have been known for some time and our recommendations are presented in this report to significantly improve Shuman’s financial operations.”
While the internal control flaws must be fixed, the Controller’s engagement of Shuman did reveal glimmers of hope for the efforts of Shuman’s staff and leadership. Since 2008, Wagner noted, crediting former Shuman Director Dr. Jack Simmons’ efforts, there has been a significant drop in the amount of repeat residents admitted to the center. In 2008, sixty percent of residents were repeat admissions, while in 2012, that number had dropped to 49%.
“It is imperative that the County works to continue this positive trend of Dr. Simmons’ tenure and bolsters Shuman’s most important mission of early intervention in the criminal justice process for juveniles,” the County Controller said.