Search for new auditor to begin

Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 4, 2000

Search for new auditor to begin

Council members to interview search firms Oct. 11

by Jay Thorwaldson

A national search for a new city auditor for Palo Alto will begin Oct. 11 with a search for a "search firm" to conduct the auditor-hunt. Members of the Council Appointed Officers (CAO) Committee will interview search-firm representatives and select a firm, according to Vice Mayor Sandy Eakins, chair of the CAO Committee.

Working with the firm, the committee will develop a "profile" of the kind of person the council wants as an auditor and the precise job duties, Eakins said.

She said the council hasn't discussed whether to continue the kind of "operational audit"--as opposed to a straight financial audit--that generated resistance from the city manager's office.

The auditor is one of four council-appointed officers, along with the city manager, city attorney and city clerk.

The auditor post has been vacant since former Auditor Bill Vinson packed up his desk and left in early August to take accrued vacation. The post officially became vacant Sept. 1.

Sources inside and outside the city said Vinson chose to leave after losing support on the City Council, principally from among council members who took office in January. The council's Finance Committee rejected his request for an additional auditor last April.

The eroding support was due both to opposition to the kind of "operational audit"--testing how people are doing their jobs--that Vinson had been hired to do and to Vinson's personal style, which sources in City Hall say tended to be more confrontational than tactful, and exaggerated minor problems in his reports to the council. 

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