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

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Audit Reports:

2012 Reports

September 19, 2012
City of Seattle Multifamily Tax Exemption Program

Report Highlights

Focus: At City Councilmember Nick Licata’s request, the Office of City Auditor conducted a performance audit of the rental portion of the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program, which is managed by the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing. 

Results: We found that the City of Seattle could improve its efforts to meet the goals stated in the MFTE ordinances that established and reauthorized the program.  In addition, we offer recommendations for improving program compliance, administration and oversight. 

September 7, 2012
Seattle Public Utilities Water Main Extensions: Internal Controls Review and Fraud Risk Audit

Read Report Highlights

Focus: Seattle City Councilmember Jean Godden requested this audit because of an alleged theft of over $1 million of water main extensions funds by a former Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) employee.  Our office evaluated internal controls over SPU’s developer-installed water main extension projects, focusing on financial controls.  We also reviewed water main extension project files to identify whether there were any lost revenues, other than those already identified by the City. Water main extension projects occur when developers are required to install a water main to serve new construction or for a site improvement project.  SPU oversees the water main project and charges a fee for its services. 

Results: We concluded the two primary internal control weaknesses that allowed the alleged theft to occur were a lack of proper segregation of duties and a lack of adequate management oversight of financial transactions.  Recently, SPU has strengthened its policies and procedures and improved the internal controls over water main extension financial transactions.  These changes should significantly reduce the risk of a similar loss of funds occurring again.  However, we concluded that several control improvements are still needed.  We conducted an extensive review of water main extension project files and payment transactions and we did not find evidence that additional funds were stolen, beyond those already identified by the City.

We have discussed each issue with SPU management and they have committed to taking corrective action on the findings in our audit report. We will follow up regularly on SPU's progress with implementing these corrective actions.

September 6, 2012
Evidence-Based Assessment of the City of Seattle's Crime Prevention Programs:

Review of Research Literature, George Mason University

What Have We Learned, and What Should We Do Next, Office of City Auditor

Interactive Web Summary Table

Focus: This non-audit project is a follow-up to a May 2011 inventory of crime prevention programs performed by the City Budget Office. The project consisted of 1) a review of research literature related to crime prevention program conducted by George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP), and 2) our office’s summary of the CEBCP review.

Results: The CEBCP report matches City of Seattle crime prevention programs with specific types of research. We hope that it will be a useful resource in a conversation about how the City might better integrate its crime prevention work with the research evidence about what is known to be effective.

Seattle Police Department’s In-Car Video Program

Read Report Highlights

June 20, 2012

Focus: To provide information on the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) in-car video program, including the number of requests for videos submitted to SPD, the percentage of public requests SPD is able to fulfill, the number of recordings regularly made by SPD, and to identify opportunities to improve the program’s operations.

Results: Our office analyzed requests for in-car video recordings submitted to SPD in April, May, and June of 2011 and found the following:

  • During the period of review, the SPD Video Unit received 815 requests for a total of 3,500 video clips. SPD detectives submitted 41% of the requests, and members of the public and media submitted 22% of the requests. Other requesters of videos included SPD’s Office of Professional Accountability, SPD command staff and officers, and other legal and law enforcement entities.
  • SPD provided copies of videos in response to 40% of requests from the public. For the remaining 60%, SPD did not provide a video either because there was no video that matched the request (25%), videos that matched the requests were exempt from disclosure under state law (32%), or the requests were duplicates or canceled (3%).
  • Additionally, the report provides information about the growth of SPD’s in-car video program and the technological and process challenges that affect the creation, transfer, storage, and copying of in-car video recordings. The report identifies six recommendations that would improve officers’ ability to create and retain in-car video recordings and enhance SPD’s management of video records, including its ability to locate them upon request.

How Can Seattle Crime Analysis Rise to the Next Level?

January 10, 2012

Focus: To evaluate the Seattle Police Department's Crime Analysis Function.

Results: Our findings indicate that the Seattle Police Department is in a good position to take its crime analysis function "to the next level" – i.e., to improve the sophistication and maximize the benefits of its crime analysis. We offer four recommendations to this end:

  1. Make more sophisticated use of data;
  2. Prioritize the continuity and skill level of crime analysis staff and leadership;
  3. Optimize the use of software tools; and
  4. Automate routine reports.