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Audit of the District of Columbia Public Library Procurement and Financial Management Practices and the Library's Relationship with the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


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The printed audit contains the following three appendices:

  • Appendix I: The D.C. Public Library Purchase Requests for Fiscal Year 1996 [on] Which the Library's Procurement Staff Failed to Take Any Action

  • Appendix II: Donation form for the D.C. Public Library Foundation

  • Appendix III: District of Columbia Public Library Foundation, Inc. Balance Sheets, October 31, 1994 & 1995

It also contains the following two agency responses, from Michael R. Winston, President of the D.C. Public Library Foundation, Inc., and Mary E. Raphael, Acting Director of the D.C. Public Library.

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TELEPHONE (301) 589-1551 FACSIMILE (301) 589-1552

September 11, 1997

Mr. Anthony S. Cooper
District of Columbia Auditor
The Presidential Building
415 Twelfth Street, N.W., Room 210
Washington, D. C. 20004

Dear Mr. Cooper:

Thank you for your letter of September 3, 1997 and the enclosed draft report entitled "Audit of the District of Columbia Public Library~s Procurement and Financial Management Practices and the Library's Relationship with the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation."

I also want to thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft report.

With respect to those sections of the report that refer to the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation, I have found no erroneous statements. There is, however, some ambiguity in the interpretation of the word "independent" as it appears in the last full paragraph on page 32.

As the report indicates, the Library and the Foundation work together to promote the Library. The Trustees of the Public Library are responsible for the Library programs and management. The Foundation raises funds to support programs approved by the Trustees, and in that sense does not act "independently" of the Library or its trustees. It is, however, independent in raising funds, consistent with its obligations as a 501(c)(3) organization. The intent of the statement in the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting on February 5, 1997 was to make it clear that the Foundation does not have program objectives that are independent of Library programs approved by the Trustees of the Library. In that limited sense, the Foundation is not independent. It must, of course, be independent in fund-raising and management to satisfy the requirements for tax exemption under the Internal Revenue Service Code.

As I understand the report's conclusions with respect to the relationship between the Library and the Foundation, no improprieties were found. It would seem to me fair to make such a declarative statement at the end of the section of the report concerning the Foundation.

If you have any questions or comments about my observations in this letter, I would be pleased to respond. I may be reached at my office, (301) 589 1551.

Michael R. Winston

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September 26, 1997

Anthony S. Cooper, District of Columbia Auditor
The Presidential Building
415 12th Street, N.W., Room 210
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mr. Cooper:

Please find attached the Public Library's response to the draft report entitled, "Audit of the District of Columbia Public Library's Procurement and Financial Management Practices and the Library's Relationship with the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation."

We appreciate having an opportunity to review the findings and recommendations. As you know from the first telephone conversation we had about this audit, we intended to be fully cooperative and supportive of your review. When I became Acting Director in late February 1997, I made procurement reform and the improvement of our financial performance my top priorities. Although we believed at that time that we had already identified many of the problems in the procurement and financial management arenas, we also anticipated that your assistance in clarifying the issues and recommending solutions would be helpful to us. We now appreciate that our initial expectations were confirmed by your report.

You will see in our response that we have implemented many of the reforms recommended in the Audit. In fact, some of these were implemented several months ago. The recommendations in the audit reinforced our decisions regarding the steps that are needed for procurement and financial management reform.

I also want to express our appreciation for the professional manner exhibited by W. Donald Wright, who conducted the field work for the Audit. We regret that we were unable to find some of the documents that he requested. We too wish that we had complete procurement files available for FY 1996 and the first half of FY 1997. These would have made our job of procurement reform easier.

We look forward, as we are sure you do, to continuing improvements and full implementation of the Audit recommendations.

cc: Joyce Clements-Smith
Michael Carowitz

Very truly yours,
Mary Raphael, Acting Director

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The response to the draft report entitled "Audit of the District of Columbia Public Library's Procurement and Financial Management Practices and the Library's Relationship with the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation" is organized in the following manner:

  • The Introduction will highlight significant progress that the Library has made in the areas of procurement and financial management since the Audit was conducted.
  • Sections I and II: The Findings and Recommendations will each be addressed individually and will be organized by the same Roman numerals, letters, etc. that appear in the text of the Audit. The Library's response in Section I is in italics Since Section II had no Findings or Recommendations, the Library's comments are not in italics there.
  • The Conclusion will identify opportunities for improvement which require additional attention in order to continue addressing operational improvements in the critical areas of procurement and financial management.


The Public Library has made significant progress in a variety of areas that were addressed by the audit. Since the scope of the Audit covered Fiscal Years 1995, 1996, and up to June 1997, this response can identify those actions and initiatives which either were in progress at the time the field work for the Audit was conducted (April - July) or have been implemented since that time.

Major changes in personnel have taken place between January and August 1997. On January 31, 1997, the Director retired and Chief Procurement Officer resigned. On February 19, 1997, the Deputy Director, who also was the Library's Chief Contracting Officer and had oversight for the Procurement Department and the Budget and Fiscal Department, resigned to accept a position in another city. On August 18, 1997, the Head of the Budget and Fiscal Department, whose responsibilities until August 1, 1996 had included providing oversight for procurement, was transferred to another agency within DC Government by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

The Board of Library Trustees appointed the Acting Director, effective February 20, 1997, and is currently engaged in a nationwide search for a new permanent Director.

The "Procurement Reform Amendment Act of 1996" as well as the report released by the Financial Authority on January 31, 1997 entitled "District of Columbia's Procurement System" provided a constantly changing environment for the Library's own procurement reform efforts. The process involved in implementing procurement reform at the government-wide level at times assisted us in our efforts but also created uncertainty and ambiguity. Nevertheless, we believe that we have dramatically improved Library operations in the area of procurement from that which the Audit reviewed and reported.


The Audit thoroughly investigated the state of the procurement operations at the Library, however, significant steps to reform procurement have been taken during the past six months. On March 31, 1997, the Acting Chief Contracting Officer delivered to the Acting Director a report entitled "Procurement Reform in the District of Columbia Public Library: A Preliminary Analysis with Recommendations". This report described the complete disarray of the procurement office during an internal investigation made from mid-February to mid-March. The Procurement Reform Report was widely distributed not only to those directly involved in Library operations but also to the community and the press. It is important to review the findings in that report in order to understand not only how much progress we have made but also how badly broken the system was. Findings noted in the Audit about the lack of procurement files were also noted in the Library's internal review in March. The severe underspending in FY 1996, when added to the inadequate procurement effort during the first five months of FY 1997, meant that the Library had to climb out of a very deep hole in order to have the procurement function operating smoothly again. This effort had to take place in an environment with multi-level approvals required for purchases in an ever-changing environment as DC Government began implementing a new procurement law.


The Library management has worked closely with Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the subordinate Deputy CFO's to improve financial performance. Throughout FY 1997, we continued to be hampered by the lack of reliable, timely, and detailed financial information. In addition, the invoices which were awaiting payment because authorizing purchase orders were not in the Financial Management System (FMS) had an effect on all financial operations throughout the fiscal year. Vendors who were owed money would not continue to do business with the Library. While most of these vendors have now been paid, Library management expects that the long- term impact from these late and delayed payments may affect our operations at least during FY 1998.



A. The Library Underspent its FY 1996 Appropriated Budget BY $899.787 While Having $304,683 in Unpaid Vendor Invoices and Approximately 300 Unfilled Purchase Requests For Goods and Services

Response: The Library held back spending for the first six months of the fiscal year in order to cover the unfunded costs of pay adjustments for employees which had been negotiated city-wide. Funding for these pay increases was expected in a central allocation from the Mayor's Budget Of fice. When other agencies received an allocation for this purpose during the first quarter of the fiscal year, the Public Library did not. After major efforts by the Library and the Friends of the Library, one million dollars was finally added by the Financial Authority in a resolution adopted on March 29, 1997. The funding was loaded in FMS when the last quarter of the FY budget was loaded in late June. The underspending was primarily in areas (supplies, equipment, and building maintenance) where spending had been held back in order to have sufficient funds in the overall budget to balance projected overspending in the personal services budget needed to cover the unfunded pay adjustment.

The Library's procurement office was unable to respond to the need to accelerate purchasing by filling the backlog of requests for purchases from the first six months. The pressure to accelerate spending was compounded by the fact that virtually a full year's purchases were compressed into the second ha lf of the fiscal year since Library management had limited spending for the first six months in order to ensure a balanced budget. Nevertheless, the challenge to accelerate spending was not met, and management officials did not make the necessary adjustment to accommodate these circumstances.


1. The Library review its system of internal accounting and procurement controls to ensure that available funding levels and expenditure levels are periodically monitored to prevent overspending or severely underspending of its budgeted resources.

Response: The lack of reliable, timely, and detailed financial information from the Budget and Fiscal Department for program managers and top executive staff has contributed to many of the financial difficulties of the Public Library during the period covered by the Audit. Library officials have been working with Library's financial office as well as the various offices under the Chief Financial Officer to correct this problem. A reporting system at detailed budgetary levels will be implemented in FY 1998 with as much information as is available from the FMS. Lack of reliable reports in FY 1997 as well as FY 1996, however, has continued to make budget implementation very difficult.

2. The Library review its procurement operations, establish or strengthen its controls to ensure that all purchase requests for goods and services are logged in, disseminated to procurement staff, acted upon in a timely manner, and reported on in monthly status reports. Periodically, management must review status reports on all purchase requests to determine what actions, if any, had been taken on the requests.

Response: On March 31, 1997, the Library published a complete assessment of the breakdown of the procurement function entitled "Procurement Reform in the District of Columbia Public Library: A Preliminary Analysis with Recommendations". This report identified many of the same issues described in the Audit. The report, which was widely distributed, defined the path that we planned to take to recovery. The process has been extremely demanding because of the ripple effect of the severe underspending in FY 1996 and the lack of systematic procurement during the first half of FY 1997. We have made steady progress in our efforts to reform procurement and expect that the process will be dramatically improved in FY 1998. The Acting Director, who assumed her responsibilities in late February 1997, made procurement reform her top priority. The Acting Chief Contracting Officer made significant strides toward reaching the goals of procurement reform as noted in the "Executive Summary" from the March 31, 1996 report (Attachment 1).

A written monthly reporting system for procurement, which provides the status of purchase requests to department heads, was implemented in July 1997. In addition, procurement staff and program staff regularly communicate directly with each other on the status of individual requests when needed Copies of approved purchase orders are distributed to the appropriate department head, who often serves as contract monitor, as well as to vendors.

B. The Library Failed to Pay $304.683 in Fiscal Year 1996 Vendor Invoices Which Must Now Be Paid From Its Fiscal Year 1997 Budget

Response: The total of $304,683 includes $200,337.64 which was booked as an outstanding liability in the closing of FY 1996 as "X' vouchers. This amount has just recently been released and paid to the vendors who had billed the Library through emergency legislation, DC Act 12-102, the "District of Columbia Public Library Vendor Payment Emergency Act of 1997." These invoices were, in fact, charged to BY 1996; documentation supporting this assertion is provided in Attachment 2.

The remaining amount of $104,345.28 needs to be verified as valid invoices; this is being addressed under the legislation described above. When and if they are verified, the Audit is correct in stating that these invoices will be charged to FY 1997.


1. The Library enforce its own internal procurement regulations and District Financial Management and Control Order No. 96-02 to ensure that contracts and purchase orders are established before goods and services are ordered, and that obligating documents (contracts and purchase orders), are timely entered into the District's Financial Management System.

Response: The Library's procurement reform plan began addressing this recommendation immediately. Most direct, one-time orders met the required procurement regulations beginning in March In the case of ongoing delivery of goods and services, corrective action was initiated as soon as we realized there was a problem. The current Library management believes that we now have eliminated these unauthorized purchases. Instructions to Library employees regarding the requirement for Authorized purchase orders to be in place prior to any purchase has been communicated to staff many times over the past six months and was repeated in writing in a memorandum to all staff on September 5, 1997.

2. The Library progressively discipline employees who order goods and services without authority and without approved contracts and purchase orders which have been properly entered into the District's Financial Management System.

Response: The Acting Director has issued a written reminder to all staff which states that employees who violate this directive will be subject to disciplinary action. The memorandum requires all supervisors to ensure that all subordinate staff have read and understood the memorandum. While we believe that unauthorized purchases are no longer being made by staff; this memorandum will provide added support for any future disciplinary actions.

3. The Library obtain solicited quotations from at least three sources when using its small purchasing procedures contracting authority.

Response: The Library's top management's focus on procurement reform has resulted in significant improvements since its own internal assessment was completed at the end of March 1997. These improvements can be documented both within the Library, by reviewing purchasing and contracting files, as well as by understanding the process which is in place across the District Government for external approval of ALL purchases. Even when the Library has a genuine emergency, we must submit our request with supporting documentation for external review.

We have worked closely with those leading the procurement reform effort for the District Government, first when Larry King, Deputy City Administrator for Public Management, was designated as the District's Acting Chief Procurement Officer and now with Richard Fite, Director of the Department of Administrative Services and Chief Procurement Officer for the District. The Library's Acting Chief Contracting Officer attends weekly meetings convened by Mr. Fite for Chief Procurement Officers from DC Government agencies. Mr. Fite is currently evaluating the Library's request to review the position description and qualifications for for a permanent Chief Procurement Officer for the Library. Requests for review and approval of the positron have been raised several times over the past five months; each time the Library was asked to postpone filling the position and to continue working with temporary employees. These employees have strong procurement backgrounds and experience and have been providing the Library with very competent work in the area of procurement.

C. The Library's Procurement Office Failed to Process Over 300 Approved Internal Purchase Requests for Goods and Services Before the Close Of Fiscal Year 1996

Response: The Procurement Reform Report described above noted this backlog in its assessment. Those requests formed the basis for the purchases during the second half of FY 1997, after each request had been reviewed by the appropriate department head to determine that the goods or services were still needed. Department heads were asked to prioritize their requests so that the procurement staff could fill those determined to be most critical first. Unfortunately, the severe backlog of requests created inordinate demands on the procurement staff. Even with increased hiring of temporary staff in procurement, the demand exceeded our ability to fill requests as quickly as would have been desired This factor was evident throughout the entire fiscal year and was inevitable, given the 18 months that had preceded the- reform effort. In addition, the budget was insufficient in some areas to fill fill the backlog of requests.


The Library establish a standard reporting format outlining purchase requests received in its procurement office and current status of the requests, and periodically, not less than monthly, disseminate the report to all management staff.

Response: Monthly reports began being issued by the Acting Chief Contracting Officer July 1997. These reports are distributed to all department heads. In addition, department heads communicate regularly with procurement staff regarding any new requests which are urgent as well as the status of pending requests. The information provided on these monthly reports may be revised as department heads recommend what additional information they would like to have. A sample page of one of these monthly reports is provided in Attachment 3.

D) The Library Continued Ordering Goods and Services in Fiscal Year 1997 Without Establishing Contracts and Purchase Orders

Response: The Library did have a large number of invoices for goods and services purchased without authorizing purchase orders in FMS. This fact was identified immediately when the procurement reform effort began. We sought to address the problem in a systematic manner. First, we instructed department heads who in turn instructed their subordinate employees to cease from this practice immediately. Then, the Aching Director wrote to both the Chief Financial Officer and the Financial Authority describing the scope of the problem and requested assistance in addressing it. After several weeks of exploring options to address this problem which threatened to disable the Library's ability to deliver library services, we concluded that the only viable opinion was to request special legislation as other DC Government entities had in prior years. The emergency legislation was introduced by the Chair of the Council Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation and was adopted on June 3, 1997. It became law on July 2, 1997. Most payments permitted under this legislation have been made, totaling over one million dollars including the amount charged against the FY 1996 retainage (approximately $200,000) as well as FY 1997. Since a narrow interpretation of Act 12-102 meant a March 1, 1997 ending date for receipt of goods and services, goods and services ordered before March 1st but received after that date were not covered by the legislation. To correct this problem, the Council moved to amend the legislation on September 22nd to cover goods and services which had been back ordered, etc. and were therefore received after March 1st. That legislation, when and if it is approved by the Mayor and the Financial Authority, will permit the Library to finish finish paying for the unauthorized purchases from FY 1997. FY 1996 invoices noted in item I-B have been processed under Act 12-102.


The Library notify its vendors, by formal letter, that it will not honor or pay any invoices unless they are supported by approved purchase orders and contracts issued by an authorized official at the Library. The letter should include the names and titles of all Library officials authorized to issue purchase orders and contracts.

Response: Vendors who do business with the Library vary from year to year. We will seriously consider how we can implement this recommendation, but it may not be possible to send such a notice to all vendors since new vendors are eligible for Library business. Purchase orders issued by the Library now include the name(s) of the authorized "ordering officers". Since this list varies depending on the scope and nature of the purchase order, it is not practical to include this information in a general letter to vendors. A sample of the instructions is provided in Attachment 4.

E. The Library Exceeded the Spending Ceiling Established on a Firm Fixed-Price Contract By $79.590 By Submitting Two Purchase Orders For the Same Contract

Response: The Library is working diligently to see that actions such as this no longer occur. The reason that two purchase orders were established for the same contract is not known by current Library of ficials, and there is no documentation in the files to explain the action. According to the Library's financial staff; the Library received permission from the Controller's Office to pay invoices under $2, 500 from book vendors under the VMSE payment voucher process at the end of FY 1996. Documentation supporting this approval is being submitted with this report.


The Library assign contract monitors to all contracts with the responsibility to include, but not be limited to, ensuring that spending against the contract does not exceed the contract ceiling.

Response: This recommendation has already been partially implemented; it will be implemented with all contracts and blanket purchase agreements in FY 1998. The success that the Library has in using contract monitors to control spending could be greatly enhanced with wider access to expenditure information in FMS. The Library anticipates having this access available to department heads during the first quarter of FY 1998.

F) The Library Exceeded a Sole Source Contract Award Ceiling by $82.245.83 And Its Contract Files Did Not Contain Supporting Documentation

Response: The Library has over 100 vendors for books and other library materials that it uses on an annual basis. We are working with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Of Dice of the Chief Procurement Officer to develop effective and efficient ways to purchase copyrighted materials. Total expenditures in this area are approximately $2.5 million annually. We plan to establish blanket purchase agreements with these vendors in the future to avoid a recurrence of this Finding Contract files which were found to be "materially deficient and void of critical information" are no longer characteristic of the Library's procurement office. Full and complete files are the norm. The deficiencies in Library contract files covered by the Audit were noted in the Library's procurement reform report published on March 31, 1997. The Library's Acting Chief Contracting Officer (CCO) could not respond to the Auditor's request for files because the CCO could not locate them either in the office of the former CCO, who resigned on January 31, 1997.


The Library review its internal procurement controls and training for procurement employees to ensure that all contract files contain a complete history of the contract with all supporting documentation, and that employees are properly trained in the maintenance of contractual files.

Response: Compete files files are maintained in the procurement office for all purchases.  These files now include, but are not limited to: Purchase Order forms, Small Purchase Summary forms, Request for Purchase Order Override forms, and Obligation Authorizing forms. Files for larger purchases also include the Request for Proposals documents, signed bid submissions, Determination and Findings (if needed), and Negotiation Notes (if appropriate).

The Library is working closely with Richard File, Chief Procurement Officer, and his staff on the procurement reform effort underway in DC Government. We expect to continue to implement improvements, including providing appropriate training for our procurement staff

G) The Library Incurred $107.358.66 In Expenditures Before the Contract Was Officially Approved and Accepted Into the District's Financial Management System

Response: The contract in question was one for maintenance on the Library's on-line catalog and circulation system. The problems with procurement during the first half of FY 1997 included the failure of the Library's then Head of Procurement to establish standard maintenance contracts at the beginning of the f seal year. The vendor in question, the developer of the Library's turnkey system, had been supporting the Library's automation system for many years and had continued providing that service. When the Acting Director and Acting Chief Contracting Officer discovered that the maintenance agreement was nod in place and was not supported by a purchase order, immediate action was taken to correct the situation. The approval process required that the maintenance contract and accompanying purchase order receive approvals outside the Library; these approvals were received only because we were able to establish the critical nature of the maintenance service to Library operations and mission.


Library officials review internal controls to ensure that recurring maintenance contracts are properly approved and obligating documents (Purchase orders and contracts) are entered into FMS at the beginning of each fiscal year.

Response: On September 5, 1997, the Library's Acting Chief Contracting Officer issued a memorandum to staff entitled "FY 1997 Close-Out & FY 1998 Procurement Planning" (Attachment 5). This document describes the steps that need to be taken for FY 1998 and has a spreadsheet appended that lists all existing contracts and agreements with expiration dates. It also designates the Library program departments responsible for initiating the request for renewal. The procurement office has been receiving requests generated by this memorandum and is developing the documents needed to ensure that these requests become purchase orders and are submitted for approval in a timely manner.

H) The Library Failed to Spend $500.000 in Capital Budget Authority And the District Rescinded the Authority

Response: The Library, for the first time in its history, had been given capital budget implementing authority under the FY 1992 Supplemental Budget. Prior to this action by the Council, the Library's capital projects had always been implemented by the Department of Public Works. This new capital authority did not receive any financing at first, but it finally received partial financing in FY 1 994 of $175,000 from a bond issue which was sold in the Summer of 1994. The Library's Head of the Budget and Fiscal Department did not respond to repeated requests from internal library officials to work with the Mayor's Capital Budget Office to establish the spending authority in FMS Without the budget establishment, it was not possible for "obligating documents (purchase orders) " to be established. The financing and the total authority lapsed because the budget was never established in EMS. Unfortunately, this authority was and still is needed.


The Library do advanced planning, review and establish FMS procedures for entering capital budget spending data to ensure that future capital budgeting authority is timely spent.

Response: Most capital projects for the Library are implemented by the Department of Public Works. The inaction which resulted in the lapse of the authority and financing has not been a problem with DPW implemented projects. If we are fortunate enough to receive capital implementing authority again, we are determined to make sure that the budget is properly established so that it can be expended



The Audit Report contained no findings or recommendations under this heading. The Library offers some clarifying information and comments for the record.

The Library is not surprised to see that concerns which might be inferred from the first eight objectives of the Audit, which relate to the Library-Foundation relationship, produced no evidence on improprieties. The Foundation operates as a separate entity, but its purpose of supporting the programs and services of the Public Library clearly makes these two entities work closely together.

The Library itself, the Foundation, and indeed the Friends of the Library groups offer different opportunities for individuals, corporations, and organizations to support public library services in the District of Columbia. We do not compete with each other but work in harmony.

The Audit includes a listing of checks written by the Foundation between 9/30/95 and 12/31/96 on Table m. A number of the checks made payable to individuals are persons who work at the Library as employees or consultants. Documentation supporting the fact that these checks were for reimbursements and/or grants for specific purposes is being submitted with this response in order to avoid the possible implication that these checks were additional payments for work performed by these individuals. These records, in some cases with additional receipts, are maintained by the Foundation; we submit these copies for your information.


The procurement reform effort will continue in FY1998. We will work to see that recommendations from the Audit are implemented.

In FY 1998, renewed efforts to address weaknesses in the financial management of the Library will be made. We will continue working with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to strengthen financial management and to ensure that the financial information that Library executives and managers need to carry out their responsibilities is available. This information is essential for accountability.

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