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Center at Va. Tech gets extension on Prince George’s audit

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Prince George’s County has given the Virginia Center for Housing Research an additional three months to finish an independent audit of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

The county contracted with the center in December to conduct the study, and the final report was due in May. Prince George’s initiated the management review because of concerns about systemic problems at the housing department.

The department came under fire last year when it had to return $2 million in federal affordable housing funds because it missed a five-year deadline for spending the money. And earlier this year, James Johnson, the former head of the housing department, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion. According to plea agreements, Mirza Baig, a developer, paid former County Executive Jack B. Johnson and James Johnson between $400,000 and $1 million in bribes to obtain affordable housing funds and surplus property from the county.

Under the contract, the center, which is based in Blacksburg and is affiliated with Virginia Tech, is to interview housing leaders, managers, employees and those receiving Community Development Block Grant funding; provide an inventory on existing department programs; identify comparable programs; and offer recommendations.

“The consultant required additional time to identify and schedule groups for interviews and conduct outside surveys,” said Karen Campbell, a spokeswoman for the county’s Office of Audits and Investigations, which administers the contract.

Campbell said the contract, which cost $64,802, will be extended at no additional cost to the county.

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