In the city of Bremerton, a review and reassessment of the city auditor position and function is currently underway.
The ability to audit at the city level is a very important component in government accountability and transparency and it should continue as an available service and option.
On the table at this particular time is the discussion of how the service of auditing at the city level is decided, conducted, staffed and acted upon.
Does the continuation of a full-time, city employed auditor still fit the needs of the city today and not 30 years ago?
Is this position in its current form able to conduct the specialized, detailed audits needed for specific departments?
Is there an operational mechanism in place for audit results to receive timely leadership attention needed for an on-record vote of action or no action on the findings?
I have attended several public meetings at both the citizen and city level over the past few months where the discussion on this issue has been detailed and robust.
Thought provoking positive and negative arguments from both ends of the spectrum have made their way onto the table.
My personal take on city auditing is that we can manage this service in a much more efficient, cost-effective, action-taking way than how it is currently being operated.
My first recommendation is to do away with the full time, city employee paid position.
Reduce the amount of duplication efforts going on.
If the state auditing results are more than sufficient at a certain level, then use the funds that would have gone towards redundancy practices to instead contract out for specialized audits.
Engage service providers who know the ins and outs of a specific department and can drill down much farther into operations and spending practices because that is what they specialize in.
My second recommendation is that a critical change is made in how the completed audit reports are handled, revealed and then acted upon.
When an audit report is released from the contractor, there should be a requirement in place that sends the report directly to the next regularly scheduled city council study session as a line item to be addressed.
The council would then review the findings and make a determination in regards to action whether that action requires more review, no action or taking the findings and using them to construct a potential policy change.
I think the audit committee should be kept but restructured and the duties redefined.
Representative membership from the administration, city council and citizens should be included. What, why and when recommendations for audits and the selection of service providing contractors should be directed by this committee.
The current audit structuring for the city of Bremerton has become outdated and not as effective as it should be.
Significant changes need to be made in how audits are decided, handled and acted upon.
Please keep an open mind going forward as proposals looking to change the city code are put forth to the public for discussion and a vote.