Palo Alto names new city auditor

City taps Jim Pelletier to head City Auditor's Office after eight-month search

Palo Alto has completed its search for a new city auditor Thursday, tapping a veteran from San Diego County for the post.

Jim Pelletier, who has served in the County of San Diego's Auditors Office for the past four-and-a-half years (including two years as chief of audits), will assume his new position on Jan. 9, the city announced.

The City Council is scheduled to approve Pelletier's contract Monday night. He will receive a base salary of $156,000.

The city auditor is one four Palo Alto positions -- along with city manager, city clerk and city attorney -- that is appointed by the council. The council chose Pelletier after an eight-month search that began after prior City Auditor Lynda Brouchard resigned.

Mike Edmonds has been serving as the interim city auditor.

"I know my experience and approach to auditing will make for a great fit with the City of Palo Alto." Pelletier said in a statement. "As I see it, the purpose of internal auditing is to add value and improve operations by providing independent, objective assurance and consulting services.

"I look forward to putting that perspective into practice here in the City Auditor's office."

Councilwoman Karen Holman, who chairs the Council Appointed Officers Committee, lauded Pelletier for his audit-management experience in public and private sectors. Pelletier won the 2010 National Association of Counties Achievement Award last year for his effort to improve internal controls at San Diego County. He had also spent three years in the private sector as an internal audit manager and, before that, was an auditor at California State University, Long Beach.

"His diversity of experience should serve our city's needs well, and we are excited to welcome him to the team," Holman said in a statement.

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Like this comment
Posted by Waiting-For-A-Good-Auditor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

It kind of flies in the face of reason that a County-level Department Manager of a County with a $5B budget (San Diego County) and a staff size that is doubtless much larger than Palo Alto’s, would want to step down from such a high-responsibility job for a low-responsibility job.

The following link points to the web-page for the San Diego Office of Audits and Advisory Services:

Web Link

San Diego County Department of Auditor and Controller:
Web Link

The following is from the San Diego HR web-pages on qualifications for a “Senior Auditors” position—

Web Link

The salary currently being offered by SD County for this position is: $81,120.00 - $162,240.00 Annually.

The following link points to the reports that the SDC “Office of Audits and Advisory Services” has produced in the last couple years:

Web Link

Clearly, the depth and breadth of these reports exceeds anything that has been produced by the Palo Alto Auditor’s Office.

It would be a real breath of fresh air to get a real Auditor in this position for a change. The Utility, the Police Department and the Fire Department all need to be audited, as well as the Information Technology “department”/strategy. Given that the Office of the Auditor has been on-going since 1982, and has produced so very little, it would be fantastic to actually see these departments having meaning audits at least ever three to five years.

Let’s hope the fellow was chosen because he has the backbone to get the job done, and not because of some screw-up he helped to orchestrate in San Diego County has him branded as “damaged goods” down south.

Like this comment
Posted by alan kaiser
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

way way way too much money for this little town

Like this comment
Posted by george
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Dear Waiting, etc. Maybe Mr. Pelletier wanted a job with less stress. Don't pillory him until you know the facts.

One thing the City Auditor does is to prepare annually a "Report on the Status of Audit Recommendations" (The 2008 one was 98 pages.) Read it or review the page one summary to learn how much work it puts in each year. It does an excellent job of holding the various division's feet to the fire.

Like this comment
Posted by george
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I forgot to mention the annual Service Efforts & Accomplishments which the Auditor publishes. It does a good job of summarizing how each major City department spends your tax dollars and what you get in return.

It's free. The fiscal year 2011 report is due shortly if it isn't already available.

Like this comment
Posted by Waiting-For-A-Good-Auditor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2011 at 7:20 am

> Maybe Mr. Pelletier wanted a job with less stress

$165K (base salary) with a pension of 82% for a "less stress" job? You really must be kidding, or have you just developed a taste for the "Palo Alto koolaide"? Do you really believe that the taxpayers of Palo Alto are providing a "pre-retirement" home for "over-stressed" government employees from other jurisdictions?

> One thing the City Auditor does is to prepare annually a
> "Report on the Status of Audit Recommendations"

It is true that the Auditor produces this report, but all of the information is provided by the individual departments. The Auditor's office does little more than compile the results. With a little work, the bulk of this effort could be performed via scripts that extract the information from a central data base. The first couple of years this report required some work on the part of the Auditor's office. These days, it's just a matter of editing into a template, based on last year's report.

In case you haven't read the "Wizard of OZ" .. the great and power wizard turned out to be one little man behind a screen .. pulling a few levers ..

The City of Palo Alto has, arguably, $30B-$35B in assets, and spends over $1B in general funds every eight years. You won't find any of that sort of information in the yearly Auditor's document. Nor will you find any evidence of wrong doing on the part of any of the City's 1100+ FTEs. In short, it only looks at a portion of the actual data needed to fully understand, or appreciate, the issues associated with running the City.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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