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


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2004 Reports

Impound Services Follow Up Memorandum
21 December 2004

This is a follow-up report for the recent Impound Services audit. The Status Report indicates whether the audit issue has been resolved or is still open, what actions have either been taken or are being pursued, and who is responsible for resolution of the issue. It should be noted that this information is based on management representations not additional audit work. We are pleased with the progress made to address the audit findings from this report and believe these actions will help to strengthen the City’s internal controls.

Domestic Violence Funding Review
18 October 2004

Based on our review, we determined that the City’s domestic violence funding for the three criminal justice agencies and the Human Services Department totaled $12.6 million in 2004, which was approximately 4.2 percent of the agencies' total $304.5 million budgets. We also determined that the domestic violence funding increased by $4.2 million over the past decade, but increased by only $59,484 during the past four years due to more recent City budgetary challenges. Funding also decreased for contracted community domestic violence services due to declining federal grant revenue.

Seattle City Light South Cash Handling Review Memorandum
08 September 2004

As part of our ongoing monitoring of City cash-handling operations, we worked with Seattle City Light's (SCL) South Customer Service Center (SCSC) to assess and improve the controls over the site's cash handling operations. SCL staff has adopted the vast majority of the recommendations we discussed for increasing the level of control at the SCSC. While we continue to have red ratings in the report, we believe that these risks will be adequately mitigated if SCL implements the recommendations we discussed.

Review of Consumer Affairs' Weights and Measures/Taxicab Inspection Programs
25 June 2004

Today the Office of City Auditor issued a memorandum, Review of Consumer Affairs' Weights and Measures/Taxicab Inspection Programs. This preliminary review examined the Consumer Affairs Unit's inspection, enforcement, and revenue collection activities for the weights, measures, and taxicab programs. Based upon our review, we concluded that Consumer Affairs conducted appropriate inspections and follow-up inspections of weights, measuring devices, and taxicabs; monitored and responded to consumer complaints as required; and collected revenues associated with the enforcement of City codes. We also concluded that because Consumer Affairs met its regulatory objectives, it did not require a full audit review.

Impound Services Internal Controls Review
21 May 2004

This review was initiated at the request of the Director of the Department of Executive Administration. The primary objectives of the review were to determine whether internal controls surrounding the impounding function and processes were adequate. We especially focused our efforts on reviewing financial controls.

Performance Perspective - Impacts of Climate Change: Will Seattle Be Prepared?
May 17, 2004

The earth’s temperature has been gradually warming since the mid-19th century. This newsletter discusses potential Pacific Northwest climate change impacts, and why we recently initiated a review to determine how Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Seattle Department of Transportation are incorporating climate change impacts into their long-term planning.

Carkeek Environmental Learning Center Cost Review
30 April 2004

The primary objective of the review was to identify the factors contributing to an 86 percent increase in total project cost, as well as to determine the reasonableness of the final project cost. We determined that the final project cost of $767,948 was significantly higher than the initial community cost estimate of $413,956 due to an incomplete initial project cost estimate, greater than anticipated construction bids and costs, and higher costs associated with sustainable design. Compared to other recently completed projects by the Department of Parks and Recreation of similar scope and size, the completed Carkeek Environmental Learning Center project costs were reasonable. We recommended that the City require more careful documentation of the costs of implementing the City’s Sustainable Building Policy to assure that the Policy contributes to the City’s sustainability goals and results in sound capital investments.

City-County Records Storage Operations Partnering Opportunities
23 March 2004

The primary objective of the review was to determine whether the City of Seattle and King County could achieve records storage service improvements and cost-savings through partnering. Based on our analysis of the City and County records storage functions, we determined that cost savings could not be achieved through shared storage of non-archive records. However, opportunities exist for achieving service improvements through the joint purchase and implementation of a new records management software system. Such a system would require an initial investment by the City and County. In addition, the City and County could benefit from private vendor arrangements for storage of excess inactive records.

Seattle Department of Transportation Cash-Handling Procedures
20 February 2004
As part of our ongoing monitoring of City cash-handling operations, we evaluated the effectiveness of the internal controls for the petty cash fund and surplus signpost cash-receipting function at the Seattle Department of Transportation's Sunny Jim site. Controls over petty cash at the site appear to be reasonable; however, our report noted several issues related to the sale of signposts that the Seattle Department of Transportation should address. Specifically, we recommended that the Department improve controls over the tracking and transportation of signpost receipts.

General Contractor/Construction Management Form of Contracting: Issues and Recommendations
12 February 2004

We reviewed the approaches used on five City GC/CM projects as well as approaches used by the State of Washington and the University of Washington. We found the City could refine its contract management practices by clarifying contract language and sharing lessons learned from the current and previous GC/CM projects. We identified six issue areas that warrant careful reflection and conscious decision-making and offer recommendations regarding safeguarding the competitive process, clarifying contract language, and making strategic choices regarding the allocation of risk and responsibility.
Report Highlights

Skagit Project: Audit Recommendations Implementation Follow-Up Review
9 February 2004

The primary objectives of the review were to determine whether Skagit Project management implemented recommendations that emerged from our 1999 and 2001 cookhouse, general store, and commute trip reduction program reviews. We also considered whether opportunities exist to improve the financial and operational situation of the cookhouse, general store, and commute trip reduction program. We concluded that Skagit Project management partially or fully implemented 12 of the 16 recommendations from our 1999 and 2001 audits, and considerably improved financial operations of the cookhouse and general store. However, the cookhouse, general store, and commute trip reduction program continued to operate at a deficit.

Review of Seattle Animal Control Cash Count
22 January 2004

The Office of City Auditor evaluated the effectiveness of internal controls for cash operations at the City of Seattle Animal Control program located in Seattle at 2061 15th Avenue West. We concluded that since 1997, the Animal Control program has made significant progress in improving the internal controls and reducing the risks in its cash handling system. These improvements are helping to provide Animal Control with a higher degree of assurance that its staff regularly collects, deposits and accounts for revenues. For example, Animal Control has implemented the Computerized Animal Tracking System (CATS), segregated functions as much as staffing levels will allow, and performs daily reconciliations of the deposits made to the City Treasury against the CATS system totals. There are still a few cash handling areas that we believe require further fine-tuning, which we identified in a memorandum to the Director of the Department of Executive Administration.

Supportive Housing Program Review
12 January 2004

This audit was conducted to follow-up a Washington State Auditor's Office and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development concerns regarding the City's McKinney Supportive Housing Program reporting practices. Based on our review, we concluded that the Human Services Department has successfully resolved the annual progress reporting issues identified in 2002. Our conclusion is consistent with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Office's formal approval of the City's new annual progress reporting and grant close-out procedures. The Regional Office also closed its case findings related to the City's annual progress reporting in November 2003.

Office of City Auditor 2003 Annual Report
8 January 2004

The Office of City Auditor's 2003 Annual Report provides an overview of our services, and describes the 10 performance, 2 compliance, and 4 internal control reviews completed during 2003.