News

National groups: Don't make city's internal watchdogs report to those they're auditing

The Institute of Internal Auditing and Association of Local Government Auditors push back against proposals to change the structure of the small office

As Palo Alto considers significant changes to the City Auditor's Office, a national auditing organization on Wednesday issued a letter to the City Council, urging council members to retain the existing structure and to preserve the office's independence.

The City Council has recently commissioned an organizational review of the office, which has been without a permanent head since City Auditor Harriet Richards resigned last year. Since then, the council has flirted with the idea of eliminating five of the six auditor positions in the office — a decision it ultimately reversed. And last year, it commissioned an organizational review of the office from a consultant. One of the areas that the consultant, Kevin Harper, was asked to look at potentially of transferring some of the auditing functions from the city's auditor's office to the city manager — effectively curbing the auditor's independence.

Today, the city auditor is one of just four executive positions — along with city manager, city attorney and city clerk — that report directly to the council.

While the City Council has yet to weigh in on possible organizational changes to the small office, this week the Institute of Internal Auditors issued a letter urging the council to preserve the status quo. Changing the reporting structure so that the city auditor would report to the city manager would "undermine the independence and critically important role of internal audit in Palo Alto, negatively impacting the public's interest."

"We believe that the City of Palo Alto should maintain the current reporting structure of its internal audit function to continue to provide objective insights, improve efficiency of operations, assess controls, evaluate risk and protect assets, and ensure compliance with laws and regulations," Richard Chambers, president and CEO of the institute, wrote to the City Council.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

While Harper's report, which was released in December, does not recommend placing the city auditor's office entirely under the purview of the city manager, it proposes a "dual-reporting relationship" under which an audit committee (or, in Palo Alto's case, the City Council) would appoint the city auditor, evaluate the office's performance determine what audits would be conducted.

The city manager, under the proposal, would provide "administrative oversight," which includes review of time sheets and expense reports and consultation about the timing of audits.

"Additional involvement by the City Manager's Office may improve cooperation with the City Auditor’s Office and may improve the quality and quantity of implemented recommendations," Harper's report states.

The report also makes a case for outsourcing some of the audits to consultants — something that the office currently does not do. Harper also found that Palo Alto's city auditor's office performs fewer audits and spends far more per audit than other area cities with internal auditors — a list that includes Berkeley, Fresno, Oakland and Santa Clara. Palo Alto had spent about $417,000 per audit, according to Harper's review, while other cities had spent between $78,000 and $354,000 per audit. And the city was tied for last with Oakland for lowest output, with an average of 0.7 audits per full-time-equivalent position annually.

Harper's report argues that the benefit of outsourcing some audits is that external firms have worked with many other organizations and have a "good understanding of best practices." The work usually costs less than Palo Alto currently spends per audit and firms usually have employees with specialized skills on staff.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

The institute, by contrast, makes a case for investing in a stronger internal-auditing operation rather than shifting the functions to consultants or placing it under the city manager.

"The City Council must embrace the importance of independence and objectivity," Chambers wrote. "A properly resourced internal audit function, independent from management, can provide insightful recommendations on how to achieve objectives more effectively, ensure mitigation of related risks, and safeguard taxpayer dollars."

To be effective, Chambers wrote, the City Auditor's Office must have "direct and unrestricted access to both city management and the City Council." It must also be "free from any undue influence of city management."

"This influence can appear in many forms, including inappropriate administrative or functional reporting relationships, budgetary constraints, and decision-making around personnel issues," Chambers wrote.

To fulfill its responsibilities, the auditor must be able to report directly to the City Council or, at the very least, to an independent audit committee. The reporting relationship between the city auditor and the City Council should be the same as between the city manager and the council, Chambers wrote.

"The City Council should view the internal audit function as its primary partner in providing effective and independent oversight of city operations," Chambers wrote.

The Institute of Internal Auditors is the second national auditing group to come out against the proposal to give the city manager some oversight over the auditor. On Dec. 19, the Association of Local Government Auditors submitted its own letter that called Harper's recommendation that the city auditor report to the city manager in an administrative manner "a significant structural threat to the independence of the City Auditor's Office and not appropriate for an external government audit function."

"Some of the administrative reporting examples outlined by the consultant could result in management inappropriately exerting control over audit work," Douglas Jones, chair of the group's Advocacy Committee and city auditor in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote in the letter.

Jones noted that under the existing structure, the city auditor works for the council and audits management.

"The charter and ballot language establishing the city auditor created a position and office that is independent of management to provide elected officials and the public with information," Jones wrote.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now
Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

National groups: Don't make city's internal watchdogs report to those they're auditing

The Institute of Internal Auditing and Association of Local Government Auditors push back against proposals to change the structure of the small office

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 3:39 pm

As Palo Alto considers significant changes to the City Auditor's Office, a national auditing organization on Wednesday issued a letter to the City Council, urging council members to retain the existing structure and to preserve the office's independence.

The City Council has recently commissioned an organizational review of the office, which has been without a permanent head since City Auditor Harriet Richards resigned last year. Since then, the council has flirted with the idea of eliminating five of the six auditor positions in the office — a decision it ultimately reversed. And last year, it commissioned an organizational review of the office from a consultant. One of the areas that the consultant, Kevin Harper, was asked to look at potentially of transferring some of the auditing functions from the city's auditor's office to the city manager — effectively curbing the auditor's independence.

Today, the city auditor is one of just four executive positions — along with city manager, city attorney and city clerk — that report directly to the council.

While the City Council has yet to weigh in on possible organizational changes to the small office, this week the Institute of Internal Auditors issued a letter urging the council to preserve the status quo. Changing the reporting structure so that the city auditor would report to the city manager would "undermine the independence and critically important role of internal audit in Palo Alto, negatively impacting the public's interest."

"We believe that the City of Palo Alto should maintain the current reporting structure of its internal audit function to continue to provide objective insights, improve efficiency of operations, assess controls, evaluate risk and protect assets, and ensure compliance with laws and regulations," Richard Chambers, president and CEO of the institute, wrote to the City Council.

While Harper's report, which was released in December, does not recommend placing the city auditor's office entirely under the purview of the city manager, it proposes a "dual-reporting relationship" under which an audit committee (or, in Palo Alto's case, the City Council) would appoint the city auditor, evaluate the office's performance determine what audits would be conducted.

The city manager, under the proposal, would provide "administrative oversight," which includes review of time sheets and expense reports and consultation about the timing of audits.

"Additional involvement by the City Manager's Office may improve cooperation with the City Auditor’s Office and may improve the quality and quantity of implemented recommendations," Harper's report states.

The report also makes a case for outsourcing some of the audits to consultants — something that the office currently does not do. Harper also found that Palo Alto's city auditor's office performs fewer audits and spends far more per audit than other area cities with internal auditors — a list that includes Berkeley, Fresno, Oakland and Santa Clara. Palo Alto had spent about $417,000 per audit, according to Harper's review, while other cities had spent between $78,000 and $354,000 per audit. And the city was tied for last with Oakland for lowest output, with an average of 0.7 audits per full-time-equivalent position annually.

Harper's report argues that the benefit of outsourcing some audits is that external firms have worked with many other organizations and have a "good understanding of best practices." The work usually costs less than Palo Alto currently spends per audit and firms usually have employees with specialized skills on staff.

The institute, by contrast, makes a case for investing in a stronger internal-auditing operation rather than shifting the functions to consultants or placing it under the city manager.

"The City Council must embrace the importance of independence and objectivity," Chambers wrote. "A properly resourced internal audit function, independent from management, can provide insightful recommendations on how to achieve objectives more effectively, ensure mitigation of related risks, and safeguard taxpayer dollars."

To be effective, Chambers wrote, the City Auditor's Office must have "direct and unrestricted access to both city management and the City Council." It must also be "free from any undue influence of city management."

"This influence can appear in many forms, including inappropriate administrative or functional reporting relationships, budgetary constraints, and decision-making around personnel issues," Chambers wrote.

To fulfill its responsibilities, the auditor must be able to report directly to the City Council or, at the very least, to an independent audit committee. The reporting relationship between the city auditor and the City Council should be the same as between the city manager and the council, Chambers wrote.

"The City Council should view the internal audit function as its primary partner in providing effective and independent oversight of city operations," Chambers wrote.

The Institute of Internal Auditors is the second national auditing group to come out against the proposal to give the city manager some oversight over the auditor. On Dec. 19, the Association of Local Government Auditors submitted its own letter that called Harper's recommendation that the city auditor report to the city manager in an administrative manner "a significant structural threat to the independence of the City Auditor's Office and not appropriate for an external government audit function."

"Some of the administrative reporting examples outlined by the consultant could result in management inappropriately exerting control over audit work," Douglas Jones, chair of the group's Advocacy Committee and city auditor in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote in the letter.

Jones noted that under the existing structure, the city auditor works for the council and audits management.

"The charter and ballot language establishing the city auditor created a position and office that is independent of management to provide elected officials and the public with information," Jones wrote.

Comments

Sally
Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2020 at 9:06 pm
Sally, Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Jeez Louise Harry Christopherson... this is so easy and clear.

The function of an INTERNAL City Auditor (not contracted, although the charter allows and encourages external help for certain financials) is MANDATED by our city charter. It is MANDATED to be fully independent of the City Manager's Office.

This is very, very easy, for those who are willing to read.

Solution is simple. Council needs to staff the charter-MANDATED role. Every moment we don't, we risk lawsuit from anyone who can claim harm directly caused by an audit docket that is not currently staffed. Make it minimal, and hire a guy/gal who is willing to clean house on less-than-stellar staff.

Listen, do, and let's move on.


Susan
another community
on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:04 pm
Susan, another community
on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:04 pm

Like Sally, I've been following this issue and it keeps me wondering what is going on in that office and why the council doesn't just get rid of the underperforming staff. The Auditor's Office website shows that they have gotten even worse - only two audits in the past year, and the business registry one looks like it is just an update of on that was issued before Richardson left the office. What do those staff do all day? A previous article said that the annual citizen survey and performance report are being done in the City Manager's office now, which means the auditors should have been able to get MORE audits done, not less. Clearly, these staff need to go. Council, do your job and fire them. It may cost the city money to do so, but it's costing us taxpayers money to have them sitting there and doing nothing.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2020 at 11:02 pm
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2020 at 11:02 pm

The language of the Charter where the Auditor is concerned:

Sec. 9. Officers appointed by council- Boards, committees,
and commissions.

The council shall appoint a city manager,
clerk, attorney, and auditor, and, except as
otherwise provided, may by ordinance or
otherwise create or abolish offices, boards,
committees, or commissions, and provide
for their manner of appointment, their tenure,
and the duties which they shall perform.

(Amended by Stats. 1965, Ch. 25, 2:-19-65
and by Stats. 1968, Ch. 163, 7-8-68 and by
Stats. 1972, Ch. 71, 7-7-72 and by amendment filed with the
----

The language does not appear to mandate the Auditor be an employee--seemingly leaving the door open for a contractor to fill the position.

The Charter does have language requiring the City to hire a contractor to perform the yearly financial audit.

If parsing this language became a federal case -- then the Charter could be amended to all for contractors to fill this role.


Sally
Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2020 at 6:15 am
Sally, Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2020 at 6:15 am

@Joe, I see what you are saying, but I feel you are wrong on there being any question if one reads the City Charter.

In addition to the one chunk of charter you reference, the charter has other sections relevant to the City Auditor. It mandates the City Auditor conduct "internal" audits. The internal/external distinction is further clarified in the mandate for external financial audits.

It's not a question of "parsing the language." It's a question of careful reading.

You are correct that one could potentially amend the City Charter to outsource audit function. But I don't think any council member will want to have their name behind that... and for good reason...

The City Charter mandates a City Auditor.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:33 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:33 am

Posted by Sally, a resident of Downtown North

>> The City Charter mandates a City Auditor.

[auditor] that is independent of the city manager. That is the key. If the auditor is under the direction of the city manager, then, might as well not have the auditor.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 10:32 am
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 10:32 am

> The City Charter mandates a City Auditor.

There is no question about that, unless the Charter is amended to remove the position.

We will have to disagree over the reading/parsing of the Charter language regarding the position of the Auditor, however.

The value of the Office of the Auditor certainly is worth review. With the exception of Sharon Erickson, there have been no good auditors in this position. And even Ms. Erickson became "long in the tooth" towards the end of her tenure.

It's very difficult to see a lot of value in this Office, based on its unwillingness to take on difficult audits, like the major operating departments: Police, Fire and Utilities. It's clear that the union-run Departments have provided too much obstruction to auditors to allow for decent audits.

Prior to her leaving, Ms. Erickson commented on/objected to the lack of compliance with her suggestions based on her audits. It became clear at that time that auditors are not experienced in the details of field operation in order to make recommendations that would actually decrease the costs of operations, or the effectiveness of the department under audit. Ms. Erickson did not seem to fully appreciate that point.

Clearly, Palo Alto politics came into play where the Office of the Auditor is concerned.

Having an outside entity that has been involved with other municipal audits would open the door to expertise that is not "home grown". An outside auditor could provide work plans and audit plans from previous audits of other municipalities to help create better audit plans for Palo Alto. Moreover, having this Office filled by contract would allow the city to change the providers over the years, so that expertise needed to investigate different city operations could effectively be purchased.

While it makes sense to have a city Auditor -- it makes more sense to start over with new players who have a track record of effective auditing practices.


Sally
Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Sally, Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Thank you for your civil disagreement Joe. It's an appointed position in Palo Alto, and I've never heard of any city appointing a corporate-citizen. :)

The role needs to be filled without further delay and be (this part is 100% clear in the charter) fully independent from City Managers Office, as "Anon" rightly added.

I do fully agree with your assertion that "it makes more sense to start over with new players who have a track record of effective auditing practices." Let's appoint the charter mandated auditor, and let him/her manage contractors and clean house.

Our disagreement aside, I think we should be both be livid at COUNCIL for allowing this to happen. The auditor role reports directly to them. The prolonged debacle of that office's performance is a failure of council to do a crucial part to their job. Currently, they are sitting around reporting to ??? to ??? to whom?? Susan is dead-on, we currently have staff with no department head likely reporting to no one. It's crazy to imagine current audit staff is reporting to council, and it would be a clear violation of the charter if they were reporting to someone with a role in, say, the City Manager's Office.

Please step up council. You've swept this under the rug long enough. Hire someone to work with you to clean this up!


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 5:35 pm
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 5:35 pm

> I’ve never heard of a city hiring a contractor as an Auditor:

Google is a great source of information --

City of Scappoose Seeing Contract Auditor:
Web Link

The City of Scappoose, Columbia County, Oregon invites proposals from qualified independent licensed municipal auditors (hereinafter called “auditor”) having sufficient governmental and auditing experience in performing an audit in accordance with the specifications outlined in this Request for Proposal (RFP).
It is the intent of the City to negotiate a three year contract, with the second and third year contingent on the successful, timely completion of the first year of the contract. A full RFP packet is available on the City of Scappoose website at http://www.ci.scappoose.or.us. Submissions must be received by 4:00 p.m. January 27, 2017.

Choosing An Auditor:
Web Link

The City of Palo Alto Charter mandates a contractor to perform financial audits. Why would they do that?
--
BTW—the City has not moved to fill the Auditor’s position quickly in the past. The very first auditor (Bill Vinson) departed his position under a cloud in 1999. The Council claimed that he left of his own volition, but the (old) Palo Alto Daily News investigated and found that he actually had been paid to leave. Councilperson Kniss was on the council at the time. She was the primary source of the misinformation about Vinson’s departure (if memory serves).

Vinson Leaves Because of “Lack of Support”:
Web Link

Bill Vinson Leaves Post:
Web Link

Notice that in 2000, the Council was considering a “temporary” auditor. The City has a large number of “temporary” employees on the payroll. Some of these people are eventually hired, and some are really just temporary. The Auditor’s position was open until 2001, when Sharon Erickson was hired.


independent auditor
College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2020 at 6:11 pm
independent auditor, College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Could it be that the prior city manager did not want to have anyone doing a deep dive into the functions he oversaw and therefore withheld or did not give the city auditor's office the support it needed? Perhaps his end goal was to replace the city auditor with an outside consultant who will not have the knowledge to ask the right questions and do a deep dive? My impressions is, that like the business register, he was very effective at torpedoing that which did not align with his interests,


Old Timer
Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:42 pm
Old Timer, Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:42 pm

@Joe - The links you have for contract auditors are for financial auditors. Palo Alto also uses a contractor for its financial audit because both the Charter and Municipal Code require that. The Auditors Office oversees that audit. The Charter requires the Auditors Office to conduct INTERNAL audits and the Municipal Code says they do performance audits, which are basically the same thing.
I worked in City Hall for a long time and thought that Richardson was an effective auditor, even more so than Erickson. But it was common knowledge that most of Richardson's staff were inept and were not willing to change. Richardson had a more collaborative approach when it came to making recommendations that would work for us but her staff didn't like that. They wanted to dictate to us how to change things regardless of the lack of reasonableness in their approach. I agree with the other comments that the staff need to go. The city benefited from Richardson as our auditor. I think the real reason she left was that she got fed up with working with staff who always wanted to do things their way and only their way. She could lead them to the water but she couldn't make them drink it.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 10:22 pm
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2020 at 10:22 pm

> Charter, Internal Audits

Here’s the charter language that provide some details about the auditor’s role:

Sec. 12.

The duties of the city clerk and attorney shall be those normally exercised by such officers as provided in this charter and in the administrative code. It shall be the duty of the city auditor to ensure that the city departments and officers responsible for accounting and financial management activities comply with statutory requirements and accounting standards. It shall·be the duty of the auditor to conduct internal audits of all the fiscal transactions of the city including, but not limited to, the examination and analysis of fiscal procedures and the examination, checking, and verification of accounts and expenditures; and the city auditor shall provide other analyses of financial and operating data as directed by the city council. The city auditor shall conduct internal audits in accordance with a schedule approved by the city council and may conduct unscheduled audits from time. to time. The results of these audits shall be reported in writing to the city council and the city manager. In addition, the auditor shall have such other duties as the council may by ordinance direct. (Amended by Stats. 1968, Ch. 163, 7-8-68 and by amendment filed with the Secretary of State, December 9, 1983)
The use of the word “internal” seems to be associated with financial audits”:
“It shall· be the duty of the auditor to conduct internal audits of all the fiscal transactions of the city ..”

> Performance and internal audits

These are probably not the same thing. But the difference is not worth discussing at the moment.

So far, there seems to be nothing in the charter, or municipal code, that requires that the Office of the Auditor be an employee. The whole point of a manager is to direct the employees to fulfill the mission of the Department. An Auditor under contract can perform this management just as an employee.

The Police Auditor is a contractor. The Financial Auditor is a contractor and most of the difficult design work of all of the departments is performed by contractors. There is no reason that the Office of the Auditor could not be on contract also. As long as the person chosen for the job is qualified—the employment status should not be an issue.

> They wanted to dictate to us how to change things regardless of the
> lack of reasonableness in their approach.

Comments in an earlier post agree with this point somewhat. But at the same time, the it’s clear that much of Palo Alto City Gov’t has been a mess. Assuming your comment is true, the question becomes—what makes the status quo right and not subject to evolution through audits?

Your comments about Richardson being more effective than Erickson are interesting. Not clear that any Auditor will ever be popular with the departments that come under audit. Erickson probably had more support from the public than Richardson. However, these are personal observations and opinions. Erickson has done a bang-up job in San Jose. She has not been popular with the labor unions since she has been promoting more prudent pension management, though.

The issue of independence is really not getting the attention it should in this discussion. The Auditor is supposed to report to the Council, but the Council doesn’t have the authority to direct the Auditor—which creates a management problem over time. At the moment, the shape of the Audit function is entrusted to the Auditor. If the Auditor does not have the ability to understand the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the Operating Departments, then it’s not clear that much will come from the Department. Comments about Richardson being "more collaborative" demonstrates that Richardson's independence was constrained by the Operating Departments in order to achieve some tangible results.

Having the CAO’s on contracts gives the Council the wiggle room it needs to terminate a CAO when it becomes clear that things are “not working out”. Having a for-life employee in those roles makes it more difficult for the Council to effect corrective action if necessary. We’ve seen that problem with a previous Police Chief, City Attorney and Assistant City Manager. Terminating their employment was less than straightforward. Having the CAOs on contract would have made the Council’s job a lot easier to consider changes when the contracts are over.

All organizations need constant monitoring and auditing. Sadly, the Operating Departments have had no oversight by the Council due to the constraints of the Charter. Without a kick-ass City Manager and City Auditor .. things are not likely to ever get better. Sadly, Palo Alto City Gov’t has become an organization that seems to be more concerned with the employees rather than fulfilling its mission of serving the property owners, taxpayers, businesses and residents.

BTW—kind of interesting that some group that no one has ever heard of has gotten involved with a Council decision which doesn’t involve them in any direct way. There probably is a backstory in there somewhere.


Independent
Esther Clark Park
on Jan 10, 2020 at 8:49 am
Independent, Esther Clark Park
on Jan 10, 2020 at 8:49 am

To the City Council : want your constituents to have more trust and faith in your city government? Appoint an auditor now.

Want to have someone help keep the public employee unions in line, without your having to do it all yourself? Appoint an auditor now.

Taxpayers demand a city auditor, to keep a watch on how our tax dollars are spent - and to help you with that difficult job. Appoint an auditor now.

Stop listening to staff - say the taxpayers demand it and appoint an auditor now, an appointment that conforms to the city charter and reports to the council.

It's simple. Appoint an auditor now.

Thank you.


Old Timer
Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2020 at 9:24 am
Old Timer, Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2020 at 9:24 am

@Joe - Many professions have professional organizations they belong to. My guess is that the auditors belong to the groups that sent letters, even if the rest of us have never heard of them, and that the staff in the Auditors Office reached out to those organizations and asked for the letters to save their jobs. As for Richardson's audits vs. Erickson's audits, Richardson's were more impactful and much easier to read. I don't think Richardson hurt her independence by collaborating on the recommendations because she stuck with her findings and was looking for recommendations that would realistically be implemented. Her recommendations did get implemented much quicker than Erickson's did.

@Independent - I agree that they need to hire an auditor now, but question who is going to want the job with all the publicity, drama, and negativity that the office has had. I'm sure that once national organizations became involved, it means a lot more people in the profession have become aware of the problems in the office. The council needs to get rid of the problem staff so a new auditor can come in and hire competent staff who are willing to do the work in a timely manner.


Friendly Neighbor
Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2020 at 3:54 pm
Friendly Neighbor, Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2020 at 3:54 pm

As a former city employee (not in the auditor’s office) I can tell you that the city manager and department heads are uncooperative with the auditors and work to purposefully undermine their work for fear of embarrassment of what may be found during an audit. Please consider that when the consultant found that the costs of audits is very high, they didn’t investigate further to understand the root cause. An audit that would normally take a few weeks can take months when management refuses or delays providing the necessary information, refuses to attend meetings with the auditors, and/or provides purposefully misleading documentation or answers. Time is money. All of these are normal tactics and were especially bad under former CM Keene. At the same time, the CM and his team meet regularly with council members and find opportunities to undermine the auditor’s work directly with them causing further delays when the council questions the validity of audits unnecessarily, raising the per audit cost even more. The audit department needs a strong leader (not the case with Richardson who aligned herself with Keene), but also consider that the bigger issue might be the culture of the organization. Only the council can ultimately change that. I say give the auditors a chance. With the right leader and the right support from the council, they may be a lot better than people think.


Puzzel
another community
on Jan 16, 2020 at 11:59 am
Puzzel, another community
on Jan 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

"And the city was tied for last with Oakland for lowest output, with an average of 0.7 audits per full-time-equivalent position annually."

I truly wish my audit team can do that little of work each year. 1 Audit every 15 to 18 months. Must be the Mueller Report.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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