Palo Alto's new city auditor made her local debut on Monday when the City Council unanimously approved her contract and welcomed her to City Hall.
Harriet Richardson, most recently a deputy city auditor for the City of Berkeley, will officially take the helm of Palo Alto's auditor's office on April 15. She will receive a salary of $167,500.
Her position is one of four -- along with city manager, city attorney and city clerk -- that is appointed directly by the City Council. A committee of council members interviewed candidates in recent months and selected Richardson after a "competitive national recruitment process," according to a statement from the city.
Councilman Greg Scharff, who chairs the Council Appointed Officers Committee, welcomed her to the new position and told her the council is "thrilled to have you."
Richardson has been a government auditor for more than 25 years, which includes 11 years of executive-level audit-management experience, according to the city's announcement. She has experience in managing and conducting performance audits, program evaluations and management and policy analysis. She has also received four Knighton Awards for Best Audit from the Association of Local Government Auditors and was recently invited to speak at The Institute of Internal Auditors' 2013 All-Star conference.
On Monday, Richardson thanked the council for offering her the position and noted that the local City Auditor's Office is one that is well known around the country as a small but mighty force.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity and very happy to have been the one selected for it," Richardson said Monday.
Richardson will be filling a position that has been vacant since Jim Pelletier resigned as city auditor last September. Senior Auditor Houman Boussina has been leading the department on an acting basis since then.
During Boussina's brief tenure, the office won an award for an audit of the city's inventory-management practices. The report uncovered numerous flaws in the city's practices -- including inaccurate records, lax security and insufficient accountability for transactions -- and recommended numerous actions for improvement. The city learned recently that the audit has won the 2013 Silver Knighton Award from the Association of Local Government Auditors
After welcoming Richardson, Mayor Nancy Shepherd thanked Boussina on Monday for his work during the transition period and lauded his office for the award.
City Manager James Keene, another council-appointed officer who came to Palo Alto from Berkeley, offered Richardson a few words of advice.
"Harriet, don't think that Berkeley really prepared you for Palo Alto," Keene said.