The company withdrew after The Inquirer raised questions on the timing of the company's campaign contributions to Mayor Dana L. Redd's reelection campaign and to the Leaders Fund, a South Jersey Democratic political action committee that helps elect local officials. The state Comptroller's Office has launched an inquiry into the matter.
Bowman has stated that it was not the Redd or Leaders Fund campaign contributions that would disqualify the firm, but rather its donations to two industry-specific political action committees. However, campaign-finance reports do not show contributions in the last two years to local candidates.
Holman will have four months to go through Camden's books and turn in a complete audit to the state - normally a six-month process. Bowman has been the city's municipal auditor since 1998.
Holman was contracted in May to perform forensic auditing of some of the city's subrecipients of state and federal grants. Subrecipients include nonprofits or other businesses performing work on behalf of the city with public funds.
City Attorney Marc Riondino initially thought Holman's $50,000 forensic-audit service would preclude the company from performing the municipal audit. But at Wednesday's special Council meeting, Riondino said the Department of Community Affairs had reviewed both contracts and determined there was no conflict.
"Our understanding is, Holman, Frenia, Allison have not performed nonaudit services that they would be in a position to audit," department spokeswoman Tammori Petty said in an e-mail Wednesday. "The services they provide are all audit-type work. We see no conflict."
Councilwoman Deborah Polk raised some questions at Wednesday's meeting related to the type of work that Holman would do on both contracts and to potential conflicts. But ultimately she was satisfied with a letter from the state saying the city could go forward in hiring Holman.
"All we are doing is additional auditing services, not accounting services," Holman partner Kevin Frenia told Council. "You'll have more grants looked at."
During a normal review, a municipal auditor would look at about 30 percent of grants available to the city and confirm how they have been spent, Frenia said. The forensic-auditing contract will allow the company to examine a larger number of grants being used by outside groups.
Said the city finance director, Glynn Jones: "They are auditing for grant compliance."
Contact Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," at www.philly.com/camden_flow.