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Achieving Honesty, Efficient Management and Full Accountability Throughout City Government Susan Cohen, City Auditor

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Audit Reports:

1997 Reports

Making Strategic Use of Surplus Computers
09 December 1997

The objective of this review was to determine how the City disposes of surplus computer equipment. We found inconsistencies in 25 of 30 Seattle City Light’s surplus computer records, and identified control weaknesses that potentially allowed computers to be misappropriated. We recommended that the Executive Services Department improve its management of surplus computer operations. Additional improvements included collecting management data on surplus computer operations, and requiring the Chief Technology Officer to assume an active role in identifying appropriate uses for the City’s surplus computer equipment.

Filipino Community of Seattle: Grant Compliance
26 November 1997

The City Auditor retained Kraght Snell, a Certified Public Accounting firm, to conduct a series of reviews to evaluate the Filipino Community of Seattle’s compliance with three City Department of Housing and Human Services grants: the Filipino American Youth Media Production Grant, the Pacific Asian Elderly Nutrition Program Grant, and the Filipino Youth Empowerment Grant. Two reportable conditions were noted for the Elderly Nutrition Program Grant, and one reportable condition was identified for the Youth Media Production Grant and for the Youth Empowerment Grant.

Survey of Council Structures and Functions
24 November 1997

This study provided comparative information about the organization of legislative functions in other local government jurisdictions. We surveyed other comparable-sized local jurisdictions with a strong executive-council form of government, and similar socioeconomic characteristics, to identify innovative or best practices.

Seattle Transportation's Response to Recent Audit Recommendations
20 November 1997

This newsletter summarizes the Seattle Transportation Department's response to recommendations made by the City Auditor in two reports issued in November 1996.

Issues of Interest to the Office of City Auditor Regarding the Development of Large Computer Applications
18 November 1997

This document and audit program compendium were developed to identify issues that City departments might want to consider when evaluating either the acquisition or the operation of Citywide information systems. It was also developed as a guide for future audits of Citywide information systems, describing the documentation and controls needed to evaluate the acquisition and day-to-day operations of major computer systems.

City's Management Of Contract Amendments And Change Orders Needs Improvement
6 November 1997

We conducted this review to evaluate Citywide and department-specific practices at Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Department of Parks and Recreation for contract amendments and change orders. Expenditures for architectural and engineering contract amendments often equaled or exceeded the original contract values, and change orders for construction contracts generally ranged between 10 and 25 percent of the original contract values. We concluded that City departments needed to improve their management of architectural and engineering consultant contract amendments to ensure that the amounts the City pays for these services are fair and reasonable.

Improvements! City Responds Positively To Recommendations Made In Our 1996 Report: Ratio of Staff to Managers in City Government
17 October 1997

This report assessed the City’s progress in implementing recommendations from our January 1996 report, The Ratio of Staff to Managers in City Government. Seattle’s overall average ratio of staff to managers rose from 5.9 in 1995 to 6.1 in 1996. The 3 percent increase allowed the City to realize payroll savings estimated at $3.1 million.

Seattle Police Department’s Management of Federal Grants For Certain Community Policing Projects
16 October 1997

This review examined the Seattle Police Department’s use of federal grant funding in the Comprehensive Communities Program and the COPS Youth Handgun Violence Initiative. We determined that the Police Department fully complied with federal grant requirements, but identified three examples of non-compliance with departmental travel and training procedures. We recommended that the Police Department amend its policies and procedures to reflect actual practices.

Memorandum regarding the development of a Citywide Accounting Policies and Procedures Manual
10 October 1997

The purpose of this project was to determine whether Citywide accounting procedures were sufficient to produce accurate, timely, and efficient accounting records. We concluded that the City’s accounting policies and procedures needed to be revised, and offered recommendations for the City’s new accounting manual.

Improving Accountability Over Swimming Pools’ Cash Handling
7 July 1997

In response to contact from a concerned citizen, we reviewed the cash-handling and revenue collections policies and practices at City-operated swimming pools. We concluded that the Department of Parks and Recreation did not ensure that pool staff deposited all cash receipts in City bank accounts, and missing bank deposits were not promptly detected. The Department needed to further standardize practices and guidance to cashiers for handling cash at the pools; strengthen oversight, monitoring and security of the pools’ cash-handling operations; perform periodic surprise cash counts; and annually reconcile the swim ticket inventory.

Open Space Program - February 25, 1997 - with Addendum C: Open Space Program's Length of Time To Acquire Property
18 April 1997

This review of the Open Space Program focused on whether the spending and acquisition objectives of the 1989 open space and trails bond measure had been achieved, and whether appropriate management controls, such as a process for ensuring the reasonableness of property acquisition costs, had been established. In general, the Open Space Program had appropriate management controls that provided reasonable assurance of achieving the program’s objectives. However, the City acquired open-space land more slowly than anticipated.

Seattle Police Department: Controls over Tickets
9 April 1997

This audit examined the Seattle Police Department’s controls over the tickets issued by its officers for traffic and criminal offenses. We reviewed the Police Department’s controls to verify that officers appropriately accounted for all tickets, to determine whether the Department tracked the final disposition of the tickets, and to evaluate management controls over blank tickets. Our conclusion was that the Police Department did not have adequate processes in place to account for officers’ use of blank tickets or to track whether the issued tickets conformed to legal standards. We recommended that the Police Department establish a system, combining manual and computerized tracking features, to account for all tickets, and secure blank tickets in a locked cabinet.

Performance Perspective - Different Frameworks; Same Goals
March 1997

This newsletter focuses on five specific performance frameworks used by organizations to improve their operations.

Transfer Stations: Cash Handling Management Letter
28 February 1997

This review summarized the effectiveness of cash-handling operations at two City solid waste transfer stations. We concluded that cash-handling controls could be improved, and recommended that management strengthen supervisory monitoring, segregate duties within the Transfer Station Billing Section, install video surveillance equipment, and improve cashiering practices.