Richmond Interim DSS Director requests audit of services

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The recently appointed interim director of the problem-plagued department of social services is demanding answers. David Hicks has requested an audit of the entire city department. He had a letter hand-delivered to the City Auditor Umesh Dalal Thursday morning.

Even though issues in child protective services prompted Interim DSS Director David Hicks' new assignment, he wants everything the department does on the examination table.

"If we're having those challenges in one particular area, the likelihood that everything else is fine is not very high," he explained.

The letter asks for a financial audit going back three years, an audit to determine efficiency and effectiveness and an audit to make sure the agency is in compliance with all laws and regulations.

Sources inside DSS say the initial reaction to the news was one of questioning the need for another study.

"At the end of the day, I have to have the best information that I have to make the decisions and I'm not going to rely on anything that anyone else had or anything else," Hicks responded to the concern. "Candidly, it's not as though we're in a position where we can rely on something that was done before."

Hicks has been on the job for ten days. This is his first big step.

"Some things I'm going to do I'm sure some individuals aren't going to agree with it," he added. "At the end of the day, hopefully we're going to build the agency that everyone can agree is the one that the city deserves."

City Council President Charles Samuels, who has been a vocal critic of what's going on inside the department charged with protecting the city's most vulnerable, thinks it is a good step.

"My hope is, however, that as the report is being generated, as the audit is being conducted and investigated, we will be able to address problems as they are discovered," he said.

At this point there's no time frame or deadline for this audit.

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