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So you’re looking forward to happy hour, but don’t know what to talk about?

How about Proposition C?

All week we’ve been writing about Prop. C — the measure on the June 3 ballot that grants more independence to the city of San Diego’s internal auditor by having that person report to the City Council’s audit committee rather than the mayor, which is the case now.

Opponents of the measure say it still gives the mayor too much influence in the auditor’s business. Supporters say Prop. C meets the standards of independence. Here are guidelines from the Association of Local Government Auditors that boost the opponent’s arguments. And here is a letter from Stanley Keller, the city’s independent monitor mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

An excerpt from the ALGA guidelines bolstering the argument of the opponents:

MODEL LEGISLATION GUIDELINES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUDITORS

The Charter or Code to establish an audit function is an important document. It sets forth the qualifications, duties, powers and manner of securing the office of the local government Auditor. The local governing body will enact legislation in various forms, depending on the particular state or provincial constitution or statutes. The information contained in this document is to be considered as general guidelines to be adapted in context with applicable state or provincial laws. Many of the elements described on the following pages are applicable to an elected or appointed Auditor.

Ordinance/Resolution/Policy Statement

WHEREAS, public officials, government managers, and private citizens want and need to know not only whether government funds are handled properly and in compliance with laws and regulations, but also whether public programs are achieving the purposes for which they were authorized and funded, and, whether they are doing so efficiently and economically.

WHEREAS, an independent auditing function can provide objective information on the operations of government programs, assist managers in carrying out their responsibilities, and help ensure full accountability to the public. WHEREAS, recognized government auditing standards provide a framework for improved government decision making, oversight and accountability.

WHEREAS, the independence and public accountability of the Auditor can be assured by provision of an (elected or legislatively appointed) Auditor.

Additional Key Elements

Local government charters, ordinances or policy statements establishing an independent audit function (either legislative or elected) should contain the following key elements:

Organizational Independence n Establishment of the Audit Function

(Elected or Appointed) The (NAME OF OFFICE/DEPARTMENT) is hereby established.

(Appointed Auditor) The (CITY/COUNTY) Auditor shall be designated through appointment by a majority vote of the (LEGISLATIVE BODY).

And one from the Keller letter touted by supporters:

In terms of preference, however, as opposed to “recommendation,” I have previously expressed the view in testimony before the Charter Review Committee that a dual reporting model, which is the common corporate model, under which the internal auditor is a part of management for administrative purposes but has direct reporting responsibilities to the Audit Committee as the independent oversight body, is best designed to accomplish both objectives of requisite independence and effective operation. The alternative of appointment by the Mayor, in consultation with the Audit Committee, and confirmation by the City Council, assuming the existence of the other elements of tenure, professional qualifications and reporting responsibilities, is most consistent with this model.

DAVID WASHBURN

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