2019 Reports

July 24, 2019

Seattle Fire Department - Special Event Cost Recovery

Focus: This audit, requested by City Councilmember Lorena González, examined the Seattle Fire Department's (SFD) cost recovery rates for staffing at billable special events (e.g., professional sports events) and its process for determining whether an event is billable or nonbillable.

Results: Our report made six recommendations that could increase SFD's recovery of costs directly related to staffing special events or strengthen controls over invoicing. We also recommended that SFD, the Seattle City Council, and the Seattle Mayor's Office work together to develop objective criteria on the types of special events that should be charged for SFD staffing.

May 15, 2019

Status Report on Implementation of Office of City Auditor Recommendations as of December 2018 

Focus: To report on the implementation status, as of December 2018, of 657 recommendations from audit reports issued by our office from January 2007 through December 2018.  

Results:  As of December 31, 2018, 72 percent of the recommendations (474 out of 657) were implemented, 17 percent (113 out of 657) were pending, and 11 percent (70 out of 657) were categorized as no further follow-up planned.

May 13, 2019

City of Seattle Financial Condition 2017

Focus: This report provides members of the public and public officials with information on the City of Seattle's (City) financial condition. The report uses information from the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) and Adopted Budgets, among other sources, and compiles the information for a broad audience. The report also provides ten years of data for most of the financial and economic indicators analyzed, allowing public officials to see historical trends and identify areas that may need attention.

Results: Overall, the City of Seattle financial and economic indicators we present in this report are positive. Revenues have exceeded expenses for the last ten years. The City maintains a high liquidity ratio, meaning that it has enough funds available to pay short-term bills. The City's general obligation bonds have the highest credit rating possible from the three major rating agencies. The City is committed to maintaining reserves and has both an Emergency Subfund and a Rainy Day Fund to address unanticipated events or declines in revenues.   The City's revenues are diversified, which affords some protection from economic downturns. However, major downturns in the national or local economy that significantly affect local business or construction activity would decrease the revenues available to the City. For example, because the City's asset preservation programs are funded in large part from real estate excise taxes, declines in local real estate sales would reduce resources available to the City's Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Additionally, as of January 1, 2018, the City's main employee pension plan, the Seattle City Employees Retirement System 1 (SCERS 1), had unfunded liabilities of $1,186.6 million In recognition of this, the City contributes to the pension plan based on an amortization schedule designed to fully fund its actuarial accrued liability by December 31, 2042. City leaders, including SCERS' Board of Administration, are paying close attention to SCERS' annual progress toward this goal and should continue to do so. Finally, the City of Seattle is continually working to address complex social problems, such as homelessness and housing affordability, while still maintaining a balanced budget.

May 9, 2019  

Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response, and Reporting in Seattle - Phase 2 Report

Focus: Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold asked our office to audit the City of Seattle's (City) handling of hate crimes. Our office completed a first phase report focused on practices and processes the Seattle Police Department (SPD) follows to identify, respond to, and prevent hate crimes. This second phase report examines prosecuted hate crimes, identifies areas where hate crimes are concentrated, and uses community feedback and best practices to offer ways to strengthen efforts to prevent and respond to hate crimes.  

Results: We make seven recommendations to improve the City's efforts to prevent, respond to, and report on hate crimes. We recommend that SPD improve the way hate crime data is documented in their records management system, and then create policies and procedures that support these changes. SPD should also explore ways to partner with community organizations that are seeking more support in preventing and responding to hate crimes. We recommend that SPD evaluate and measure the results of their hate crime prevention and response efforts. Finally, we recommend that the King County Prosecutor's Office (KCPO) and the Seattle City Attorney's Office (CAO) make data on prosecuted hate crimes available to the public. SPD, CAO, and KCPO generally agree with the report's recommendations.

March 29, 2019

Seattle Public Utilities New Taps Billing and Controls Review  

Focus: This report describes the results of our audit of Seattle Public Utilities' (SPU) recalculations of new taps charges billed by SPU between January 1, 2015 and April 5, 2018. New taps are newly installed water services for SPU's residential, commercial, and industrial customers. SPU initiated their audit test work to recalculate new taps billings for this period after discovering that some customers had been overcharged for new taps installations.   

Results: We found that SPU developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to auditing new taps billing calculations. SPU completed their audit test work and identified some billing adjustments that resulted in both refunds and back billings. SPU has updated their policies, procedures and internal controls and is updating other documentation to help ensure the accuracy of future new taps billings.

February 25, 2019

Public Health - Seattle King County (PHSKC) and University of Washington (UW) Report on Healthy Food Availability and Food Bank Network

Focus: Ordinance 125324, referred to as the Sweetened Beverage Tax, passed by the Seattle City Council in June 2017, required the City Auditor to contract with academic researchers to conduct a series of evaluations, including one on food deserts in Seattle and an assessment of Seattle's food bank network. The Office of City Auditor contracted with Public Health - Seattle and King County (Public Health) to lead the evaluations. Public Health worked with the University of Washington to conduct the food desert and food bank evaluation.  

Seattle City Council Finance and Neighborhoods Committee 2/27/19 Presentation Slides on PHSKC/UW Report on Healthy Food Availability and Food Bank Network

February 7, 2019

Review of Navigation Team 2018 Quarter 2 Report

Focus: This report, requested by Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, is part of a series of reports intended to promote continuous improvement in the City of Seattle's Navigation Team approach, which is part of the City of Seattle's strategy for addressing the issue of people living unsheltered in Seattle.

Results: This report assesses four reporting checkpoints from the Executive's Quarter 2 response to the Navigation Team reporting plan, a plan with 14 reporting checkpoints designed to help inform the City Council on the Navigation Team approach. We identified findings for four of the reporting checkpoints, and we developed a set of 13 recommendations that are listed in Appendix B of our report.

January 7, 2019

Public Health - Seattle and King County's (PHSKC) Report on the 6 Month Store Beverage Prices Audit

Focus:  Ordinance 125324, passed by the Seattle City Council in June 2017, required the City Auditor to contract with academic researchers to conduct a multi-year evaluation of the behavioral, health, and economic impacts of the sweetened beverage tax. The Office of City Auditor contracted with Public Health - Seattle and King County (Public Health) to lead the evaluation. Public Health contracted with the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Health to help it conduct the evaluation. This report provides information collected by a University of Washington research team on the prices of taxed and nontaxed beverages before the tax took effect and 6 months after the start of the tax.

City Council Finance and Neighborhoods Committee 1/9/19 Presentation Slides on PHSKC's 6 Month Store Beverage Prices Audit

Frequently Asked Questions Document on PHSKC's 6 Month Store Beverage Prices Audit