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


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2001 Reports

City Agencies' Budget Rent-A-Car Policies and Practices
20 December 2001

This report examined the guidelines and conditions under which City agencies allowed employees to secure rental car vehicles for weekend use. We determined that the surveyed City agencies generally adhered to City policies in their use of rental vehicles, and that three of the four agencies had established policies and procedures to manage the use of rental vehicles. However, City agencies’ documentation for the justification and use of rental cars could be improved. As a result of the audit findings, the Fleets Division developed a new form to document the conditions for which the use of rental vehicles is justified and to document actual rental vehicle use.

Managing the Real Property Assets of the City of Seattle
12 December 2001

This study evaluated the effectiveness of the Real East Services Unit’s centralized real property asset management services. We concluded that the Unit’s real property management efforts were beneficial to the City, especially the Real Estate Oversight Committee’s efforts on recent neighborhood planning implementation. We developed several recommendations to strengthen the City’s non-centralized real estate management functions.

Department of Neighborhoods: Service Centers Cash Handling Review
28 November 2001

This review assessed the cash-handling procedures established by the Department of Neighborhoods’ for its 13 neighborhood service centers. We identified several cash-handling control and system weaknesses. In response, the Department developed and implemented an action plan to strengthen its cash-handling procedures and to safeguard funds received at the 13 service center locations.

Review of IT Security in the Consolidated Customer Service System
18 October 2001

This report described the results of testing the Consolidated Customer Service System, the City’s combined electric, water, and solid waste utility billing system. We tested the system’s security controls against a set of general information technology security standards, and concluded that the security controls were generally adequate. However, we identified internal control weaknesses in the system, and provided recommendations to address potential risks.

Seattle Municipal Court Collection Services
03 October 2001

This review assessed Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.’s compliance with its Seattle Municipal Court contract to provide collection services. We concluded that Outsourcing Solutions, Inc. managed the Court’s collection efforts in an acceptable manner and generally complied with contractual requirements. The Seattle Municipal Court and Outsourcing Solutions, Inc., agreed to implement several minor recommendations to strengthen the Court’s collections services.

Capital Improvement Program Study of Seattle Transportation
06 September 2001

Audit staff served on the Steering Committee for oversight of the Dye Management Group, Inc. study of the Seattle Transportation capital improvement program. The Dye Management Group evaluated the capital improvement program development process, program delivery and project management, and program monitoring and reporting. The Dye Management Group provided more than 20 recommendations to improve Seattle Transportation’s capital improvement program.

Review of "Creating A Respectful Workplace" Training
13 August 2001

This report was prepared and presented to the City Council by two Math, Engineering and Science Achievement Program interns. It assessed the effectiveness of the Personnel Department’s "Creating a Respectful Workplace" training. Based on survey responses from 449 City employees who participated in the program from May 2000 to May 2001, we concluded that the training was highly effective.

Review of the Civil Service Commission
09 August 2001

This study analyzed the efficiency and effectiveness of the Civil Service Commission. We concluded that the Commission could improve its operations and its appearance of objectivity, and recommended that the Commission revise its rules and procedures, address departments’ concerns about the pre-hearing process, and clarify the roles of the Commissioners, the Executive Director, and the Hearing Examiner.

Seattle Public Utilities' Resource Conservation Incentive Programs
06 August 2001

This report evaluated internal controls established for two Seattle Public Utilities water conservation financial incentive programs. The two incentive programs offered rebates to Seattle Public Utilities customers who purchased efficient washing machines, and provided financial assistance to commercial customers who implemented water-saving technologies. We identified internal control weaknesses that Seattle Public Utilities corrected through the implementation of recommended program changes.

City Financial Policies Regarding Business Improvement Areas and Local Improvement Districts
August 2001

The Office of City Auditor and Department of Finance jointly staffed a review and compilation of City financial policies related to Business Improvement Areas and Local Improvement Districts. In addition, two resolutions were drafted to update the City’s financial policies regarding the establishment and management of Business Improvement Areas (Resolution 30389) and to reaffirm existing policies regarding the establishment and management of Local Improvement Districts (Resolution 30387). The City Council adopted both resolutions in August 2001.

Seattle Public Library Capital Program: Quality Assurance Review Memorandum #3
18 July 2001

This report was the third in our ongoing series of quality assurance reviews of the Libraries for All Capital Program cost, schedule, and document management practices. We concluded that the Libraries for All Capital Program management had strengthened its project reporting and responded to other issues identified in our Quality Assurance Review Memorandum #2 (see page 15). However, we raised additional concerns about the future management of project costs, schedule, and documents in this report.

Internal Control Assistance: SPU Resource Conservation Toilet Round-Up Program
03 July 2001

This study focused on internal controls established for two Seattle Public Utilities conservation events, during which Seattle households could receive financial rebates for replacing inefficient toilets with new low-volume models. We reviewed Seattle Public Utilities’ rebate procedures and issued a memorandum with recommendations for minimizing the risk of fraud or other abuse during the two conservation events.

Public Safety Civil Service Commission's Budget Rent A Car Practices
24 April 2001

The Office of City Auditor initiated this review of the Public Safety Civil Service Commission’s car rental practices in response to Finance Department concerns about whether selected rental car invoices, submitted by an employee and authorized by the Commission, were justified on the basis of City business. We concluded that the Commission has not established clear guidelines or maintained adequate records to ensure that car rentals were justified on the basis of City business, and that the Commission’s Secretary and Chief Examiner had repeatedly authorized the employee’s personal use of City rental cars, in violation of the Seattle Municipal Code. We recommended that the Commission develop a car rental policy that is consistent with City ordinances and policies, and that the employee reimburse the City for past personal use of rental cars. The Commission's response was not favorable, so we included documentary evidence as attachments to the report. We also issued a management letter that summarized the report's conclusions in greater detail than the report transmittal letter.

On 01 May we issued a memorandum to the Mayor and City Council in which we identified problems with the Commission's organizational structure and examined several options for reorganizing the Commission.

Seattle City Light:Skagit Cookhouse Audit
26 February 2001

This review of Seattle City Light’s Skagit Cookhouse evaluated the cost effectiveness of the cookhouse operations. We concluded that the cookhouse’s expenses exceeded food service industry averages due to high labor and overhead costs. We also found that the cookhouse information systems were not effective in monitoring and controlling food operations and expenses. We recommended job class and payroll changes, as well as accounting and billing system enhancements.

A Guide to Benefit Sub-fund Budgeting and Reporting Practices - City of Seattle Personnel Department
17 January 2001

The purpose of this guide was to: 1) explain the budgeting and accounting practices for the Special Funds administered by the Personnel Department, 2) document the relationship between the sub-funds and the Personnel Department’s program budget; and 3) develop reporting formats that allow the Personnel Department to easily compare one year’s revenues and expenditures to the next year, including changes in administrative costs.

2000 Annual Report
10 January 2001

The Office of City Auditor annual report highlights our 2000 audits and studies, and provides information about City audit operations. During 2002, we completed 19 projects, including 8 performance audits and 11 financial-type audits. The preliminary work program for 2001 is also included in this annual report.