EXCLUSIVE: Documents reveal how a VCU department mismanaged millions of dollars

Illustration by Mai-Phuong Bui.

After a review, VCU’s board of visitors concluded the Parking and Transportation Department is not financially self-sufficient and fell $4 million short of its anticipated profit, according to documents made public via a records request.

Audit and Compliance Services began a review of the department in April 2017 to determine if their budgeting process was effective. The final report determined P&T did not have “effective fiscal management processes for its operations.”

“Assurance services comes around and conducts audits to ensure things are being done properly to ensure that state resources are being used appropriately and wisely,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti. “Audits are good things here at VCU.”

P&T’s auxiliary fund balance for the 2017 fiscal year indicated it brought in more than $18 million. Approximately $10 million of those funds covered expenses, while about $7 million went to capital projects and debt service.

The department started the 2017 fiscal year with $5.75 million and ended with $5.88 million — resulting in a $129,248 difference, short of the more than $4 million profit P&T originally expected.

P&T Director Clayton Harrington said while the audit shows a difference in expected profit and what the department actually made, it does not signify money went missing.

There was an apparent disconnect between P&T and the administration division that oversees the department.

“We got our report in early August, I want to say the 10th,” Harrington said. “Early August is when we got the first draft of the report.”

Meredith Weiss, VCU’s vice president of administration, stated in an email she learned of the issues brought up by the audit when she first saw it last August.

William Cole, executive director of audit and compliance services, said vice presidents review audit reports before they are presented to the board and set a time for them to be resolved. Weiss has not set that deadline.  

The final report notes Parking & Transportation did not document operational procedures. Some documents were apparently missing or outdated. The report also indicates the department did not present documents of several financial analyses.

Auditors had “considerable difficulty in obtaining and analyzing financial performance,” according to the report. They suggested P&T work with a team of fiscal resources from the administration and finance divisions as part of parking and transportation’s management action plan.

Weiss said the department brought in a team to work under the University Controller to take care of finances. P&T’s Finance Manager position is currently vacant.

“Recruitment and hiring of the Finance Manager position will be completed as soon as feasible,” the final report stated. “However, the preference is to have the appropriate fiscal processes in place before an effective hire date.”

In July, P&T released its fourth quarter newsletter listing Scott Jared as the new Senior Finance Manager for the department.

“Our new Finance Manager, Scott, is digging deep into the VCU financial world and has developed quite a few good resources helping him move towards a comprehensive budget” stated Clayton Harrington in the newsletter.

Scott Jared could not be reached for comment.

Dakota Rust, Contributing Writer

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