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Finance chief for D.C. schools is out, source says

DCPS chief financial officer Noah Wepman, excoriated by the D.C. Council last month for sitting on news about mounting budget pressures in the school system, submitted his resignation Monday, according to a top District source. WTOP, citing sources, reported late Monday afternoon that he'd been fired.

Whether he was thrown from the train or jumped off by himself, it was clear that Wepman had big problems after acknowledging at an Oct. 29 hearing that he had not reported the existence of a $12 million-plus deficit in DCPS' 2010 budget. Wepman handled school finances for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, but reported to District CFO Natwar M. Gandhi, who certified the District's 2010 budget as in balance without knowledge of the deficit. Although he had told Rhee's people, Wepman conceded that he should have made Gandhi aware of the problem.

Both D.C. Council president Vincent C. Gray (D) and Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) had called for Wepman's head. Last week, Gray described Gandhi as "deeply concerned" about Wepman's disclosure, which came during a discussion of Rhee's decision to lay off 266 teachers and staff on Oct. 2. The layoffs were triggered in part by the deficit.

Wepman could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

--Bill Turque

By Steve Reiss  |  November 9, 2009; 7:32 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , City Finances , D.C. Council  
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Comments

Mr. Wepman, if you're reading this, I think you much better off now. Seriously, I may not seem like it at this moment, but you're lucky to be out of that rat's nest. Many will be following you, I'm sure of it.

Now that you know what it's like to be totally compromised, you won't let it happen again. It's a hard lesson, but a good one and you're young enough to bounce back.

Posted by: efavorite | November 9, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Gandhi and Rhee, not Wepman are the culprits and the council is too intimidated by these two gov't employees to hold them accountable and not use Wepman as the whipping boy.

It's unacceptable for Gandhi to use the excuse, "lack of communication with Wepman" as a forest for his so-called ignorance of Rhee's and Wepman's actions.

How is it possible for Gandhi to certify D.C.'s budget and solicit Wall Street, if he doesn't communicate with his staff?

Gandhi knew!


Posted by: dcnatives | November 9, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Corrections:

"I think you'RE much better off now. Seriously, IT may not seem...."

[much too late to blog well, but just in time to get out of DCPS]

Posted by: efavorite | November 9, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

The sentiment for Wepman is displaced. His sorry a** should never have been appointed to the position in the first place, as the old adage goes "a fool and his money were lucky to get together in the first place."

Wepman has a history of failure and his appointment serves as a conspicuous illustration of Fenty/Rhee's poor judgment for forcing him on Ghandi. While, after the tax scandal, Fenty chopped off whatever balls Ghandi once had, Ghandi's lack of executive management skills also comes to light.

The truth is there for those willing to view it. The Wepman episode is symptomatic of a much deeper problem--Ghandi's stunning lack of engagement, integrity, and judgment. He is all show and no substance, always mugging for the cameras instead of providing engaged executive oversight. He's the worst kind of leadership model--always absolving himself of responsibility and tossing his underlings to the wolfs whenever something goes sideways.

A real step toward competent financial management for the District is for someone--Fenty or Gray--to serve Ghandi's head on platter.

Posted by: 4GUDGOV | November 10, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Fenty has distroyed another career. Wepman is too young and inexperienced to know when he is compromised by his superior. no doubt he was told not to disclose the information, part of Fenty's and Rhee's deceptive plan. Best thing for Wepman is to walk away from this mess before he becomes another Scuder Libby

Posted by: gordonbundy | November 10, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Finally after all these years of screwing up budget after budget, he gets the boot. It only happened because he got called out and Ghandi was put on the spot. He protected him for years. If all he became was unemployed after his participation in 300 employees losing their jobs, he got off lightly. The willful act of sending the budget for certification with false information was signed and co-signed by both Rhee and Wepman. So what about her crime? What about the apparent ineffectiveness of ghandi? Don't stop with Wepman!!!!

Posted by: candycane1 | November 10, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Don't worry, Candycane - I know I can be overly optimistic, but I don't think the purge will stop with Wepman. Rather, I think it couldn't start unless Wepman fell.

He's the weakest link - who in an otherwise credible organization could have been the only loss.

We shall see, just as we shall see how kindly the DOE takes to the WaPo ed board's repudiation of Sec. Duncan's support for the New Haven teacher's union contract that he's touted so highly.

Other readers here - Please go to the editorial comments section and let DOE know what DC citizens think about Chancellor Rhee.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/09/AR2009110903161_Comments.html

Posted by: efavorite | November 10, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I view CFO Wepman's resignation as a welcome sign that certifying budgets as being in balance has some meaning. Who will be the next (or acting) DCPS CFO?

Posted by: DCResident22 | November 10, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Did Wepman take the fall for Rhee? That's what I would like to know.

Posted by: resc | November 10, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Efavorite: I read that editorial. The WAPO Editorial Board is just plain silly.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 10, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Wepman is the first domino to fall, who is the next is the central question. If justice prevails, Ghandi is the next scalp the Council should snatch.

The world continues to fall around this guy and he, at best, remains clueless. Fifty million bucks stolen from right under his nose by members of his own staff--his excuse, "I didn't know".

His own hand-picked General Counsel turned out to be a charlatan (no law degree) and a thief (stole a quarter of a million dollars because Ghandi stupidly gave him sole signature authority over an administrative account), his excuse, "I didn't know".

Now he certified a nearly billion dollar school budget which reflect a $20 million + deficit, and guess what, his excuse is, "I didn't know".

Like all pathetic failed leaders, his reaction to the rampant stealing, widespread misrepresentation, and deep-seeded incompetence within his purview, is always to fire those whose fingerprints are on the deed. Of course the Teflon CFO always wears the gloves provided to him by the big money private interest (see federal city council) who keep him in place because they prefer the status quo for some unknown reasons.

Chairman Gray if you are reading this, please make the plunge, formally launch your campaign for Mayor. In developing your resume of accomplishments, please add one more scalp to your trophy belt, that of the Teflon CFO, Natwar Ghandi.

Posted by: 4GUDGOV | November 10, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

So help me understand. What was Ghandi looking at when he certified the DCPS budgetary status? Doesn't the Chief Officer have direct access to financial records or the accountability for the reports? Did Wepman have experience commensurate to the duties and responsibilities required to "manage"? Who appointed/approved Wepman as CFO? It is in the accountability before and during the acts not afterwards.

Posted by: 1-2know | November 10, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Noah Wepman's performance at the hearings was a complete train wreck. Anyone who saw it knew he had just lost his job. He should never have been hired.

Posted by: RL67 | November 10, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I think the real reason Mr. Wepman lost his job is not failure to understand what was going on or failure to report to the CFO. I think the real reason he is gone is failure to protect Rhee and her lying game. It was Wepman, under the excellent questioning by Mary Cheh who let out that the Chancellor had reprogrammed money without council approval, and Wepman who let the council know he had given her options for keeping the budget in balance that did not require a RIF. The first is what got a number of people who usually support Rhee questioning her competence. Both are pieces of information that will serve every person who was RIFfed well when they sue the city.

Posted by: qazqaz | November 12, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Noah Wepman is an intelligent, caring, hard working individual caught up in a quagmire....in DCPS the easiest solution is to through one more career under the bus rather than face the reality of the situation. If anyone thinks Mr. Ghandi didn't or doesn't know what the DCPS budget is they don't know Mr. Ghandi. I have personally seen the City override DCPS budgets actually flying in the face of legal orders....don't blame Mr. Wepman...just watch the bus go bump one more time as another good soul gets rolled over simply trying to do an impossible job.....How many more must take a fall for Ms. Rhee's inability to manage a multimillion dollar corporation with little or no such experience....

You want DCPS to work....privatize the whole thing....and get the politics and the mayor the heck out of it…..

Noah you are much better off…….

Posted by: youcanthandlethetruth2 | November 14, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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