Office identifies audit emphasis areas for school districts

Colorful Metal Lockers

School districts have asked the State Auditor’s Office for advance notice of what areas upcoming audits will emphasize. The following list identifies areas auditors might focus on to help districts prepare for audits examining fiscal year 2017. These areas are general in nature, and as always the specific areas audited will be determined by a risk-based analysis. Local audit teams also are available all year to answer technical questions and point to additional guidance on specific audit areas. Continue reading

SAO’s Performance Center: Leaner name, but excellent service is the same

The Local Government Performance Center has been renamed The Performance Center. Local governments can expect the same excellent training, technical assistance and resources that SAO has long provided to help improve performance and effectiveness. The Performance Center hosts Lean Academies, creates financial tools and shares online resources to help governments improve the value of their services to residents. For questions or inquiries into how The Performance Center can help, call (360) 725-5621 or email performance@sao.wa.gov.

 

Name brand procurements versus sole source contracts

ProcurementMgmt_123770867.jpgLocal governments have the ability to specify a name brand during their procurement process. In these situations, the government should thoroughly document why only this specific manufacturer’s equipment is necessary to meet their operational needs, as well as why another manufacturer’s equipment could not substitute. This documentation should be maintained and periodically evaluated to ensure that the specific brand is still required.

For the procurement process, the local government should draft specifications of what they intend to purchase, and what specific brand is required. Based on the estimated cost of the purchase, the government would then follow applicable procurement processes.

It is important to note here that specifying a name brand during the procurement process is not the same as declaring a purchase sole source. Continue reading

Pensions and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) update

The GAAP and cash basis BARS manuals have been updated, and the 2017 pension worksheet, notes and RSI templates are now available on our website at www.sao.wa.gov. The 2017 DRS Participating Employer Financial Information (PEFI) report is available at www.drs.wa.gov. Now that you have the information and tools you need to begin calculating your 2017 pension numbers, this is a great time to get started. As in the past, our Office will provide one-on-one assistance to local governments with their calculations. Please contact Debra.Burleson@sao.wa.gov or our online HelpDesk for assistance.

The BARS Manual also includes our new Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) web page. This includes a list of frequently asked questions we’ve received about Other Postemployment Benefits and implementing the new standard, GASB Statement No. 75, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions, effective for fiscal years ending in 2018. These questions and answers are shown below. Continue reading

BARS Manual receives regular update for 2018

It’s that time of year again! The updated 2018 version of the Budgeting, Accounting and Reporting System (BARS) Manual will be available on our website in the third week of December. While users may notice several changes in this update, the most significant revision to the 2018 BARS Manual centers on reporting schedules for cities and counties, and specifically Schedule 07 – Cash Disbursements, and Schedule 11 – Cash Activity. A new schedule, Schedule 06 – Summary of Bank Reconciliation, makes an appearance in the 2018 cash-basis manual to accommodate those changes to Schedules 07 and 11. Continue reading

Auditor McCarthy discusses her first year in Office: interview with Austin Jenkins

2017-12-08 Pat at TVW smile.jpgState Auditor Pat McCarthy sat down with TVW’s Austin Jenkins in Olympia this week to talk about her first year in Office. Since taking Office in early 2017 as the 11th State Auditor and first elected woman Auditor, McCarthy has emphasized the importance of the Office’s role in creating government transparency. “The Office is the public’s window into government,” McCarthy told Jenkins. Watch the full interview for more information on a variety of topics, including increasing accountability audits and cybersecurity efforts.

Local governments turn to Office of the Washington State Auditor for cybersecurity help

cybersecurity_200880859Did you know that the State Auditor offers free, in-depth evaluations of local government’s cybersecurity systems? In an article published today, the Pew Charitable Trust details the cutting-edge role the Washington State Auditor has in ensuring the IT system security of local governments around the state. This service helps protect local governments and their residents’ sensitive data from increasingly sophisticated hacking attempts. Want to learn more about how the Office of the Washington State Auditor is a leader in cyber security work? Check out the City of Mill Creek’s IT security performance audit here.

Change Management, Lesson Two

JennineGriffo

By Jennine Griffo, Continuous Improvement Coordinator with the State Auditor’s Office

 

Have you ever attending a training at work only to find you are expected to adopt the new technique next week? Chances are this has happened to you — how did it go? Were you and your co-workers motivated for a while, then less so as the new way slowly faded into memory and the status quo returned? Or maybe you and your co-workers skeptically eyed one another during the training, afterward marching in line to toss your materials in the circular file. Either way, the spectacular results the training promised were dulled by the daily weight of office drudgery.

Contrast this with the enthusiasm and excitement we feel when purchasing the newest iPhone or other tech gadget—the thrill of a new car or a bigger, better TV with which to watch the newest season of that hot new show. In our personal lives, we change all the time, and what’s more, we often crave and relish that change. What’s the difference between the way change feels at work and at home? In our personal lives, marketers understand what motivates us and spend their time trying to sell us those nice new products. At work … not so much. Continue reading

Inside the Auditor’s request for funding for additional accountability audits

The Office of the Washington State Auditor has asked the Legislature for $700,000 to pay for more accountability audits of state agencies, one of Auditor Pat McCarthy’s initiatives to increase transparency and accountability in government. You can read the full request here.

State agencies routinely are subject to audits of all kinds, including regular reviews of their financial statements. This Office issues more than 2,000 audits a year of all kinds of governments, from the smallest school districts to the largest ports to state agencies. Continue reading

Pre-proposal statement of inquiry: rule making

Law book with wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or lawThe State Auditor’s Office filed with the Code Reviser’s Office the notice to begin the rule making process to amend WAC 48-13 Access to Public Records.  The purpose of this chapter is to implement the requirements of the Public Records Act including the process the agency uses for disclosing records. This update will modernize the rule to reflect current law, technology, and processes. Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication by contacting Cindy Evans at (360) 725-5585 or cindy.evans@sao.wa.gov.  The filed CR-101 form can be found here.