Prince George’s County school system officials said an audit found no improprieties related to the short tenure of Colby White, the former chief financial officer for the school district who resigned in September after he was fined for personal insurance fraud.
Vittorio Weeks, director of the school system’s Department of Finance and Treasury Operations, said the audit determined that the system’s finances were not compromised by White, who served as chief financial officer for about three months, or his wife, Keisha, who worked in the school system as an internal auditor.
The audit doesn’t mention the former chief financial officer or his wife by name. The Whites did not respond to a request for comment.
The district opted to have ClintonLarsonAllen, its external auditor, expand a general audit of the system, which the auditors were in the process of conducting when White resigned. Instead of specifically auditing White’s tenure, Weeks said, the auditors included fraud testing as part of their investigation.
Weeks said the auditors looked into whether there were any connections between the Whites and any vendors. They also made certain that there were no fraudulent checks going to the Whites’ home address, he said.
“That testing determined that there was no issue,” he said. “They saw that there was not a need to do a separate inquiry.”
In light of the Whites’ relationship and their roles in the school system, ClintonLarsonAllen recommended that the school district consider adding an annual certification process for each internal auditor that addresses conflicts of interest and relationship disclosures and provides examples that could impair objectivity.
“An internal audit department that reports directly to the Board of Education or a designated committee of the Board is an industry best practice and assists the internal audit department to remain independent of management and objective in performing their work,” auditors wrote. “However, this can become compromised when individuals working within the internal audit department have immediate family members in management positions.”
As chief financial officer, White was responsible for preparing the school district’s $1.8 billion budget and led a staff of 175 employees. His office included payroll, purchasing and workers’ compensation offices.
“At the time the chief financial officer was appointed to the position, the School System did not consider the impact, if any, on the internal audit department or audits in process,” the auditors wrote in a letter with the audit. “The spouse was not assigned to any projects that directly investigated the chief financial officer or central accounting office. However, an annual certification disclosing relationships . . . would increase the awareness of objectivity.”
White quit his job after school system officials learned that he and his wife were fined by the state for insurance fraud related to a $16,313 wedding ring. Keisha White also resigned.
At the time, Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school district, said officials were trying to decide the scope of the inquiry.
The school system initially placed the Whites on administrative leave with pay and announced that it would conduct an internal investigation. Days after the discovery, the Whites resigned and schools chief Kevin Maxwell said external auditors would handle a review of the system’s finances to ensure that the school district was not compromised.