External Auditors To Probe City Finances

Dallas City Hall sign | Image by JHVEPhoto

Dallas is launching an external audit of City finances to ensure taxpayer funds have been accounted for accurately.

The accounting firm Weaver is currently under contract to perform the annual audit of the City’s financial statements, as required by Dallas City Code. 

“We do have to give fair and reasonable assurance to you that the financial statements are materially correct,” Weaver engagement partner Sara Dempsey told the Dallas City Council Government Performance and Financial Management (GPFM) committee this week. “We’re doing our best work to get to that point.”

City of Dallas public affairs officer Jenna Carpenter told The Dallas Express that Weaver was “selected by a competitive bid process” by the GPFM committee. The City’s contract with Weaver began on October 1, 2020, and will expire on September 30, 2025.

Dempsey said the audit is expected to conclude in February, and the findings will be presented to the council in March. She said “high-risk areas” include “improper revenue recognition” for Dallas Water Utilities, the Aviation Department, the Sanitation Department, and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

“Journal entries could be created without the proper approval process, for example,” she said.

In addition to the City’s financial statements, Weaver will audit grant funding the City has received from the state and the federal government to ensure the funds are accounted for appropriately.

“Obviously, with the COVID money in recent years, it’s just been even more of a risk,” Dempsey said. Other areas of focus during the audit include the IT department, capital assets, long-term liabilities, and “misappropriation of assets through payroll disbursements.”

Committee members had no questions for the Weaver representatives during Tuesday’s meeting, which also included a discussion of a recommended internal audit led by City Auditor Mark Swann that may be conducted next year. 

Previous polling conducted by The Dallas Express has shown that city residents across the political spectrum support more transparency from the City of Dallas. Transparency International U.S. director of advocacy Scott Greytak previously told The Dallas Express that “when government isn’t open and transparent, the legitimacy and credibility of its decisions naturally come into question.”

The internal audit’s priorities would include the IT Department, Park & Recreation, Public Works, and the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS). Swann will investigate the OHS’ homeless response system to determine whether its strategies for rehousing the homeless are working, as reported by The Dallas Express.

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