Vote Yes on Ballot Question I on November 8

by Councilman Eric T. Costello

Through audit reform, our City government has a unique opportunity to further reduce property taxes and improve the quality and scope of City services. That’s why I’m asking you to support Ballot Question I when you go to the election booth in November.

Before joining the City Council, I was an auditor with the US Government Accountability Office. This experience gave me a deep appreciation for effective performance and financial auditing.

For the past year and a half, I have worked with the Mayor, City Council, and Comptroller to reform what was known as Quadrennial Audits, a deeply flawed auditing approach that had been watered down through the political process.

The new proposed auditing process ensures that the administration and City agencies are held accountable to the taxpayers. We are accomplishing this change through an amendment to the City’s charter, which received approval by the City Council and mayor.

For final approval, citizens need to vote in November on this proposed measure, listed as Ballot Question I. I encourage you to vote “yes” on Ballot Question I.

Specifically, the bill will:

  1. Transfer responsibility from the Director of Finance to the Department of Audits (City Auditor) to remove a conflict of interest.
  2. Increase the frequency of both performance and financial audits from four years to every two years.
  3. Provide for staggered audits, so that half of the agencies are audited in odd-numbered calendar years, the other half in even-numbered years.
  4. Add three critical agencies to be audited: the Department of Health, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, and the Mayor’s Office of Human Services.
  5. Provide funding through the Comptroller’s annual budget request, based on negotiated agreement between City administration and the Comptroller’s office.
  6. Ensure the audits are completed by the City’s Department of Audits, not by outsourced consultants.
  7. Publish audit reports online.
  8. Require the City Auditor to report on the status of Recommendations for Executive Action from the immediate past audit for each agency.
  9. Establish the Biennial Audits Oversight Commission (BAOC), which will be controlled by the City Council and comprised of the City Council president, three City Council members, the Comptroller, Director of Finance, and Inspector General. The BAOC will hold at least two publicly advertised meetings per year and will provide input and guidance to the City Auditor on the scope of performance audits.
  10. Require reporting by the City Auditor to the BAOC on the status of all audits and a public discussion of agency corrective actions to address Recommendations for Executive Action.
  11. Take effect in January 2017.

These measures will not increase taxpayer costs for what the City is currently paying to conduct these audits. That may be the best reason to vote YES for Ballot Question 1!

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