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


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2003 Reports

Civil Service Commission Follow-Up
04 November 2003

The Office of City Auditor revisited recommendations from the August 2001 Review of the Civil Service Commission, and associated Management Letter. We found that the Commission has new members and a new Executive Director since the time of the audit, and the Commission has implemented all of the recommendations within its authority. We found one new problem created by the language of Ordinance 120936. The attorneys for the Civil Service Commission and the City's Personnel Department are taking steps to introduce legislation to clarify the issue.

Public Safety Civil Service Commission Follow-Up
10 October 2003

The Office of City Auditor revisited recommendations from the 2001 Review of the Public Safety Civil Service Commission, Management Letter and Analysis of Options for Reorganizing the Functions of the Public Safety Civil Service Commission. We found that the City implemented our recommendation to transfer responsibility for administering examinations for police officers and firefighters from the Public Safety Civil Service Commission to the City's Personnel Department. This reorganization left only one staff position with the Public Safety Civil Service Commission and made the remaining recommendations irrelevant. As the function is now managed within the Personnel Department, supervision is adequate, and the City does not pay for the transportation of employees to their place of work.

Review of Fleets Vehicle Use Log for SPD K-9 Units
30 September 2003

At the request of the Department of Fleets and Facilities (FFD), we responded to a request made by the Seattle Police Department's (SPD) K-9 unit to change the method they use to document their use of City overnight vehicles.  Rather than using the standard "vehicle use log", SPD wanted to provide a list of assigned Canine Officers and their hours as of January 31 of each year to FFD.  We believe that it would be acceptable for FFD to grant an exception to the SPD K-9 unit in this case.

Seattle Public Utilities' Memoranda of Agreements
22 September 2003

We conducted the study to determine whether the agreements between Seattle Public Utilities and the Seattle Department of Transportation, and between Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Parks and Recreation, complied with the Washington State Accountancy Act. We concluded that the departments spent utility funding in accordance with the Washington State Accountancy Act and with City ordinances that established the Drainage and Wastewater Fund and the Solid Waste Fund.

DoIT's Loss of Accounts Receivable Funds
17 July 2003

At the request of the Department of Information Technology (DoIT), we confirmed the theft of $3,400 of its funds and reviewed the department's accounts receivable processes to help prevent future loss of funds. Our report contains several recommendations that should help DoIT improve the controls over its accounts receivable funds and processes.

Office of Housing Organizational Review
14 July 2003

A City Council proviso to the adopted 2003 budget directs the Office of City Auditor to report on the Office of Housing staffing and organizational structure. At the request of the Office of Housing, our review was completed in two phases. The first phase was completed in February with the release of the Office of Housing Staffing Review Management Letter. This management letter responds to Council questions regarding the Office of Housing’s staff-to-manager ratio and organizational structure.

Improving SPU Solid Waste Operations' Control of Assets
22 May 2003

This report identified some ways that the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Solid Waste Operations Division could improve the internal controls over its assets. Specifically, it could improve its controls for the purchase, storage, use, and disposal of assets. To achieve these improvements, Solid Waste Operations should adopt more effective asset monitoring practices and increase its commitment to proactive maintenance.

Joint Work Plan for Partnering Opportunities
13 May 2003

This report responds to Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council legislation requesting that the Auditor’s Offices conduct a joint study to "explore opportunities for improved services and more efficient use of public resources through City-County partnering and develop a work plan for more detailed analysis."
Report Highlights

Office of City Auditor Ten-Year Anniversary Report
8 May 2003

Attached is the Office of City Auditor's Ten-Year Anniversary Report. Since 1993, we have completed 117 major audits and studies, which are described in this report. The report also includes a brief introduction describing our mission, objectives, and professional work standards, and a chronology of office milestones.

Seattle Public Utilities - Rain Barrel Sales
17 April 2003

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) asked the City Auditor to review its cash handling procedures in advance of SPU’s April 12, 2003 rain barrel sale. We reviewed the procedures and discussed them with SPU staff, offered suggestions for improving the procedures to further minimize the risk of fraud, and issued a memorandum that summarized our conclusions.

Seattle Housing Authority's Holly Park Relocation Efforts
01 April 2003

This report examined whether the Seattle Housing Authority complied with the terms of a City agreement for the relocation of Holly Park residents prompted by a housing revitalization project. The City agreement specified that the Seattle Housing Authority would ensure that the affected households received adequate relocation choices, and would minimize residential displacements and disruptions. We determined that the Seattle Housing Authority complied with the relocation conditions specified in the City agreement. We recommended that the Seattle Housing Authority fully document all relocation actions in each household case file, and conduct surveys of affected households to evaluate their satisfaction with the relocation process.
Report Highlights

Office of Hearing Examiner Review
21 March 2003

This study evaluated the effectiveness of the Office of Hearing Examiner’s organizational and functional structures. Based on the review, including best practices research, we concluded that the appropriate structures appear to be in place and operating effectively. Our analysis also suggested that the Office of Hearing Examiner might be overstaffed due to workload decreases during the past few years, and could potentially achieve operating efficiencies by co-locating with other small offices that perform similar functions. In addition, the Personnel Department could review the job duties for some staff positions to determine whether the current classifications are still appropriate.

2002 Annual Report
28 February 2003

The Office of City Auditor's 10th annual report highlights our 2002 audits and studies, and provides background information about City audit operations. During 2002, we completed 18 projects, including seven performance audits, six compliance audits, and five internal control reviews. We also completed two additional management reviews, initiated work on six new projects to be completed in early 2003, and participated in the City Council's 2003-04 Budget Review.
Report Highlights

Improving the City's Citizen Complaint Resolution Processes
18 February 2003

This review focused on whether the City effectively responds to citizen complaints, and whether its complaint resolution processes could be strengthened to increase citizen confidence in City government. We determined that the City has established both centralized and department-level processes to effectively resolve citizen complaints. Based on the results of a citizen satisfaction survey, however, some City agencies could improve the frequency and timeliness of communications with complainants. We also determined that an ombudsman function could further enhance citizen understanding and confidence that the City resolves complaints objectively and equitably, particularly those involving complex policy and operational issues.
Report Highlights

Libraries for All Quality Assurance Review #5 Central Library
13 February 2003

This fifth Quality Assurance Review assessed the Central Library portion of the Libraries for All Capital Program. The purpose of the review was to provide stakeholders with an overview of the Central Library Capital Project’s progress based on the scope of work, schedule, and budget. We determined that the Seattle Public Library and its general contractor could improve the overall management of the Central Library Project to avoid schedule delays and to effectively resolve change orders.

Office of Housing Staffing Review
06 February 2003

Initiated in response to a City Council proviso to the adopted 2003 budget, this review considered the reasonableness of filling two vacant Office of Housing planning and development positions. We determined that one of the two vacant positions was required to complete high-priority, legally mandated, and other well-defined Office of Housing planning, development and program management projects and activities in 2003. The justification for filling the second planning and development position was a policy matter for the City Council’s consideration.

Improving the City's Central Warehouse Operation
03 February 2003

This report examined the Warehousing Services Section’s management of the Central Warehouse to determine whether it could be operated more efficiently. We also analyzed the warehouse’s records management data to evaluate the City’s compliance with state records retention and disposal requirements. We determined that the efficiency of the Central Warehouse’s operations could be improved, particularly its space usage, management of archived records, and inventory tracking systems and related procedures. We also concluded that the City was complying with state records retention requirements.

Low-Income Rate Assistance Programs
30 January 2003

During this review, the Office of City Auditor evaluated the Low-Income Rate Assistance Program, administered by the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens, to determine whether the program was operated in an efficient manner, and achieved its objective of identifying eligible, low-income electric utility customers. We concluded that the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens generally managed the rate assistance programs effectively, but recommended that the Office for Senior Citizens continue to explore new outreach strategies, formalize policies and procedures, upgrade office computers, and strengthen controls over the intake process.
Report Highlights