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Financial audits reveal deep trouble at DSS

What began as an investigation into possible fraud in two small charitable funds has now morphed into a review of the entire financial system at Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services. County commissioner Bill James sits on the audit review committee that examined seven separate audits and concluded that for at least five years, DSS has lacked proper financial controls. James says it's unclear if the problems were a result of fraud, or just poor management. "At this point, we don't know," he says. "But the recommendation to the board is to require management to get to the bottom of this and to determine ultimately who is at fault." DSS is one of the county's largest agencies and spends about $180 million a year. James says auditors were unable to determine how much money might have disappeared from the DSS budget over the years. Tuesday evening, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners will consider calling for additional investigation into DSS.