Friday, June 20, 2008

Council's Independent Internal Auditor; What's Happening?

A commentator on this post was asking me questions about the internal auditor position. I wrote an article about the Council's internal auditor for the January 16, 2008 issue of CFP that I would recommend for even more background on the position.

Following is the article I wrote concerning the difference between the city manager and the internal auditor search for the current issue of CFP (June 18, 2008). The story (re-formatted) ended up taking an odd turn, read for yourself. - Jackie

City Manager vs. Internal Auditor

By Jackie Melton
CFP Contributor

Springfield may have cut employees by attrition to help raise the $5.2 million needed to fund the police/fire actuarial recommendation, but there are at least two positions they will be looking to fill this year. Those positions, the city manager and the Council’s internal auditor, seem to be receiving very different levels of scrutiny.

While a 22-member city manager search committee attempts to find the new city manager, the search process for the internal auditor seems to have been relinquished to the city manager’s office and human resource department.

In January, Councilman Dan Chiles said he and Councilman Doug Burlison had informally discussed the possibility of forming an external citizen search committee, but that never happened.

“This position is being handled through our HR (human resource) department and will not be done by committee, except for possibly the final selection and evaluations,” City Clerk Brenda Cirtin wrote in an e-mail.

Burlison said it would be difficult for the all-volunteer Council to handle the search for applicants. He acknowledged he has some concerns about the Council’s dependence on the city manager’s office and human resource department in their search to find qualified applicants for the position. “My suspicion is the internal auditor is not something the city manager’s office wants,” he said.

Burlison noted he’s looking forward to having an auditor to assist the Council in overseeing city government. “This proposed position is, in fact, the key to any reforms that City Council may enact in response to the audit,” Burlison said in January.

Mayor Tom Carlson, in his state of the city report, didn’t seem to share Burlison’s view of the importance of hiring an auditor. “Primarily, they [state auditors] talked about an internal auditor, and we’re going to have one of those, and so, I hope everybody’s happy, but it’s not that big a deal,” Carlson said.

According to the audit report, an “internal auditor could have helped in discovering and resolving several of the areas commented on,” adding, the auditor would, “provide a means whereby the City Council can be made aware of current activities.”

At the June 2 City Council meeting, Burlison asked for an update on the internal auditor search.

“We made a few changes to the job description and expanded the advertisement that we had earlier put out,” interim City Manager Evelyn Honea responded.

Director of Human Resources, Sheila Maerz, acknowledged she had already received the job description changes, and Sharon Smith, Honea’s administrative assistant, acknowledged the city manager’s office had made them. “The city manager’s office made the changes, and Gary Deaver, chairman of the finance and administration committee, was in agreement of those changes,” Smith wrote in an e-mail.

One change contradicted Springfield’s city charter. Under the charter, the internal auditor “shall be a certified public accountant (CPA) or a person specially trained and experienced in governmental or business investigation or administration,” but the city manager office’s changes to the job description made CPA certification a requirement. “In addition, a CPA certification is required along with….” reads one change. Another reads, “Licensed CPA certification is required.”

City Attorney Dan Wichmer was unaware of the changes, because they were not posted in the job description on the city’s Web site; he suggested they might be a draft, then an old copy, then a draft. “She (Honea) said the comments that Council had been making were that they probably would not consider anybody other than a CPA,” Wichmer said, after talking to Honea, “but the requirements are set by charter. They (Council) are free to screen higher than that, but, as far as the actual job description, it needs to say what the charter says.”

Burlison was surprised to hear of the changes. “That’s news to me, unless I’m forgetting a meeting. The change that I thought had been discussed with us in the committee, if not with the Council as a whole, was to not require the internal auditor be a CPA, so we could cast a wider net,” he said.

Wichmer said the Council would discuss it at the luncheon on June 10. The issue was not specifically mentioned on the city’s published agenda for that luncheon meeting and was not brought up by any person who attended the meeting.

Advertisements for the position, listing CPA certification as a requirement, have been sent or posted to several professional journals and publications.

Internal Auditor Job Description Changes Approved June 12

> By unanimous verbal vote, the City Council’s Finance and Administration Committee approved changes made to the Council’s internal auditor job description on June 12, 2008.

> Certified Public Accountant requirements have been removed from the changed job description.

> The Finance and Administration Committee is the body who will work most directly with an internal auditor once hired.

> Members of the Council’s Committee are: Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver, Councilman Ralph Manley, Councilman Denny Whayne and Councilman Doug Burlison.

Go to to view the original Council approved job description, circulated changes, and final approved changes, along with the advertisement as published and posted by the city of Springfield.


There is more information available at Community Free Press - Midweek, including an update on the city manager search and the internal auditor application process.


Also, available at CFP, click on the "On-line Supplements to Print Edition," (link found under the cover shot of the current issue) to find:

The Answer to: Who Recommended the Changes?

A Link to the City Manager Search Video

The Four Sub-Committees of the City Manager Search Committee

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Council's Independent Internal Auditor; What's Happening?

Great topic JH !!

One key skill for this position would be the ablity to break up any local mob types who think they own & run Springfield.

After they are gone, the internal auditor could take some accounting classes if needed.