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Office of City Auditor -- Clarifying Idea

From: domainremoved <Lynne>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2019 15:46:15 -0700

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Dear Council,

I'm writing to clarify my suggestion that Council consider establishing an Office of City Auditor reporting directly to Council. State statues require an annual audit of the City's financial systems by independent, certified public accountants. I was not suggesting bringing the financial audit role role in-house.

The City Auditor position will likely pay for itself via identifying ways for greater cost efficiencies. Some residents and others have called for an overall organizational review of the MP Staff Organization. That's because they consider our Staff organization large for a city our size. Unfortunately, I don't think that that kind of consultant exists. Instead, cities seem to have instituted the Office of City Auditor as a way to systematically (over time) review all parts of the organization. As Menlo Park continues to grow its population, and especially its day population (with office workers) we are getting to the size that Palo Alto was when it instituted its Office of the City Auditor (OCA) in Palo Alto<http://The%20Office%20of%20the%20City%20Auditor%20(OCA)%20conducts%20performance%20audits%20and%20reviews%20of%20City%20departments,%20programs,%20and%20services.%20Performance%20audits%20provide%20the%20City%20Council,%20City%20management,%20and%20the%20public%20with%20independent%20and%20objective%20information%20regarding%20the%20economy,%20efficiency,%20and%20effectiveness%20of%20City%20programs%20and%20activities.%20The%20OCA%20coordinates%20the%20annual%20citizen%20survey%20and%20issues%20the%20annual%20City%20of%20Palo%20Alto%20Service%20Efforts%20and%20Accomplishments%20report%20summarizing%20costs,%20workload,%20and%20performance%20results%20for%20City%20services%20with%20selected%20data%20for%20the%20last%20five%20years.%20%20The%20OCA%20contracts%20with%20an%20independent%20certified%20public%20accountant%20for%20the%20City’s%20annual%20external%20financial%20audit.%20The%20OCA%20also%20conducts%20and%20coordinates%20revenue%20monitoring%20in%20areas%20such%20as%20sales%20and%20use%20tax,%20property%20tax,%20transient%20occupancy%20tax%20and%20utility%20user’s%20tax.%20%20Each%20fiscal%20year,%20the%20OCA%20presents%20an%20annual%20audit%20work%20plan%20for%20City%20Council%20approval.%20The%20OCA%20reports%20quarterly%20to%20the%20City%20Council%20on%20the%20status%20of%20audit%20projects%20and%20annually%20on%20the%20status%20of%20open%20audit%20recommendations.>. That office's purpose is To promote honest, efficient, effective, and fully accountable city government."

Each fiscal year the Palo Alto OCA presents an annual audit work plan for City Council approval. The OCA reports quarterly to the City Council on the status of audit projects and annually on the status of open audit recommendations. The OCA conducts performance audits and reviews of City departments, programs, and services. Performance audits provide the City Council, City management, and the public with independent and objective information regarding the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of City programs and activities. The OCA in Palo Alto also has other duties, including the annual Service Efforts and Accomplishments report summarizing costs, workload, and performance results for City services with selected data for the last five years.

Below are links to some example reports:

  * Library Hours and Staffing<https://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/28146>: By Improving the Efficiency of its Staffing Model, the Library can reduce the cost of extending service hours (San Jose)
  * Performance Audit <https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/16-017_audit_of_public_library_system_0.pdf> of the San Diego Public Library System (identified inequities in library services)
  * City of Atlanta Office of City Auditor y<http://www.atlaudit.org/>ou might like to browse the report topics)
  * City of Austin Internal Audito<http://www.austintexas.gov/department/auditor>r office (gives role description and links to reports)<http://www.austintexas.gov/page/audit-reports>

A Office of City Auditor position would also promote a culture of continuous improvement. I also recognize that there may be "political resistance" to the idea of a City Auditor role. In Palo Alto, the voters had to amend Palo Alto's charter to add the role. This alone suggests resistance.

Lynne Bramlett

Received on Thu Oct 31 2019 - 15:38:24 PDT

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