Leadership turnover hasn't kept the City Auditor's Office in Palo Alto from racking up awards, including a national award for its recent audit of the city's vehicle fleet.
The Association of Local Government Auditors recent awarded the fleet audit its Knighton Award, recognizing it as the best performance audit of 2010 for a small office. In handing Palo Alto the "gold" award, the association cited the report's "significant, well-supported findings that focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. The audit, the association wrote, had "significant impact" in achieving "immediate and ongoing savings opportunities."
The report, which was issued in April 2010 under the leadership of then-City Auditor Lynda Brouchoud and former Senior Auditor Edwin Young, found that more than a third of the city's transport vehicles are underused; that city workers didn't consistently lock the vehicles; and that the city's fleet data is outdated and incomplete. It included 22 recommendations for improved recordkeeping, better fleet management and a pool of vehicles for different departments to share.
The audit prompted Palo Alto officials to suspend and revamp the city's vehicle-replacement program. The city estimates that the audit helped identify nearly $7 million in savings to the city.
"This report had a significant impact demonstrated by the immediate ongoing cost savings opportunities it presented during a particularly difficult economic climate," Mayor Sid Espinosa said in a statement. "The City of Palo Alto places a high priority on transparency and accountability and the work of City Auditor's Office helps ensure City government runs as effectively and efficiently as possible."
The auditor's office also received an award from the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) for its annual Service Efforts and Accomplishments Report -- a comprehensive survey of city services and community opinions about these services. This was the sixth year in a row that the annual survey received the association's "Gold Award for Excellence in SEA reporting." The office also received a "Certificate of Excellence in Citizen-Centric Reporting."
The office continues to garner national recognition despite personnel changes at the top. Brouchoud went on maternity leave in October and the city announced her resignation in March. Michael Edmonds has been serving as interim city auditor since October and remains in this position while the city is looking for Brouchoud's permanent replacement. The City Council's Council Appointed Officer Committee plans to meet on April 27 to consider hiring an executive firm that would assist the city with the search.