Each report entry contains a summary of report focus and results, a full report document and a report highlights document.
Click the report titles to expand and contract this information for each title.
June 6, 2014
Focus: The Seattle City Council requested this audit because of an alleged employee theft of over $1 million of customer payments from a secondary revenue stream at Seattle Public Utilities. The City Council wanted to ensure that appropriate controls were also in place over the secondary revenue streams at Seattle City Light (SCL), because these types of revenues have generally received less attention and scrutiny than the two utilities' primary revenue streams. Through a risk assessment process, we determined that SCL's Salvage Unit should be chosen as a secondary revenue stream for audit. We hired the firm Francis and Company to perform most of the audit work, with our office performing additional work. The audit's primary objectives were to 1) establish through testing of transactions whether (a) past surplus sales were made in accordance with established policies and procedures, (b) sales were appropriately priced, (c) receipts were deposited in a timely manner, and (d) any assets were misappropriated; and 2) identify any weaknesses in the current internal control structure and make recommendations for improvement.
Results: Based on their agreed-upon procedures work, Francis and Company verified that all proceeds from SCL surplus sales tested for the period 2007-2011 were accounted for. However, we have concerns about the Salvage Unit's ability to provide adequate safeguards over surplus yard assets. Accordingly, we developed several recommendations to improve internal controls over the safeguarding of those assets.
May 28, 2014
Focus: To determine in what ways unions representing employees working in Seattle responded to the opportunity to waive the City's Paid Sick and Safe Time regulations through collective bargaining.
Results: Of 56 unions we contacted that represent employees eligible for the City's Paid Sick and Safe Time regulations, 19 did not waive the requirements, 22 waived the requirements, and 15 unions that have multiple contracts waived the requirements in some cases and not others.
May 22, 2014
Focus: To identify: 1) practices related to police chief selection, confirmation, employment contracts, and re-confirmation in cities similar to Seattle; and 2) any recommended best practices in these areas from academics or professional organizations with expertise in policing and police accountability and professionalism.
Results: We surveyed 12 jurisdictions similar in size and policing environment to the City of Seattle (total sample of 13). We found that: 1) all the police chiefs in these 13 cities are appointed by either the Mayor or City Manager; 2) 5 cities have a process for confirming these appointments and the remaining 8 do not; 3) none of the cities has a reconfirmation process in place; 4) only 3 cities have employment contracts with their police chiefs, and 5) 12 of the 13 police chiefs serve at will and do not have term limits on their service.
To identify best practices, we interviewed officials from the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the cities of Baltimore, MD; Bridgeport, CT; Denver, CO; and Nashville, TN. We obtained opinions from these officials on the advantages and disadvantages of reconfirmation, term limits, and employment contracts and factors that contribute to a successful police chief selection process.
May 20, 2014
Focus: To determine whether: 1) the recent bid process for police impound services complied with State of Washington and City of Seattle laws; 2) the City obtained the technologies it desired; 3) opportunities for women and minority owned businesses (WMBE) increased or decreased under the new contract; and 4) retrieval storage lots meet requirements for location and accessibility.
Results: We found that:
- The City complied with State and City laws related to public procurement, towing, and impounds in conducting the Request for Proposal (RFP) and contract award processes.
- The City was successful in obtaining the new technologies it desired.
- The percentage of impounds and storage days provided by WMBE firms has decreased under the new contract.
- Two of the contractor's 3 storage and release lots comply with the contract requirements. We question whether the south end lot is easily accessible to a public transit route.
April 30, 2014
Focus: To report on the implementation status as of December 2013 of 350 recommendations from audit reports issued by our office from January 2007 through December 2013.
Results: As of December 2013, 67 percent (234 out of 350) were implemented, 23 percent (82 out of 350) were pending, and 10 percent (34 out of 350) did not warrant further follow-up.
Assessment of Consolidated Customer Service System (CCSS) Transaction Controls Policies and Procedures, April 29, 2014
April 29, 2014
Focus: We conducted an audit of the internal controls over customer account transactions for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle City Light (SCL). We reviewed the applicable policies and procedures to determine if the internal controls in place were adequate to prevent and/or detect inappropriate utility account transactions. We also conducted data mining to review utility account transactions.
Results: Overall, we found that current controls over utility account transactions are adequate, and that SPU and SCL have taken several actions in the last two years to strengthen these controls. However, we also noted several areas requiring further strengthening of controls, including several related to improving SPU and SCL's procedures for monitoring for inappropriate transactions with the use of exception reporting.
Implementation and Early Outcomes of the City of Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, April 22, 2014
April 22, 2014
Focus: The Office of City Auditor contracted with the University of Washington to conduct an evaluation of the impacts of the City's Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance on employers and employees.
Results: After the Ordinance was in effect for one year, the evaluation determined that the majority of employers (96%) are offering some paid leave to full time employees, with 62% also offering leave to their part time employees. However, 39% of employers either do not cover full- and part-time employees as required by the law, and/or do not offer as many hours as the law requires. Employers reported that implementation difficulties were frustrating but transient. The cost of providing leave was tracked by very few employers, but those reporting cited costs of less than half a percent of gross revenues, with far less usage than anticipated. Seventy percent of employers said they support the ordinance and view paid leave as a valuable and important benefit for their workers. Interviews with a small group of employees indicate that employees appreciate having a "safety net" that allows them to take time off to care for themselves or their sick family members. However, there are many employees who still do not have access to the benefit, especially those working for employers with 250 or more employees.
April 8, 2014
Focus: To conduct research on six cities that elect some or all councilmembers by district, in preparation for Seattle to transition to a district election system. We contacted each of the six cities and asked them 16 questions developed by the interdepartmental team for district elections.
Results: We received written responses from five city council offices and one executive office. We found that most of the cities do not organize legislative or executive functions by election district, and are instead organized by city function or issue. We also found that city council offices operated similar to Seattle, with few district distinctions.
March 31, 2014