FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you choose what to audit?
I select audits by prioritizing the areas of greatest concern in our City. I also listen carefully to all citizens concerns. Audits are determined by a combination of factors; including, but not limited to, a program/department's budget size, vulnerability to Fraud Waste + Abuse, and any prior audit coverage, as well as concerns from citizens, City officials and City staff.
If you have an audit suggestion, please tell the City Auditor.
Who do you report to?
As your elected City Auditor, I report directly to you, the citizens of Oakland. I do not report to the Mayor or the City Council; I work on your behalf.
Why is the City Auditor elected?
As an independently elected official, I am able to be objective, impartial and resolute when auditing the City. No one within Oakland's administration can influence what I look at, how I go about investigating it, or what I find. I am your eyes and ears inside City Hall.
What can and can't the City Auditor investigate?
As your City Auditor, the City Charter gives my Office the authority to audit ANYTHING in Oakland's City government. There is nothing within the City of Oakland's public offices that I can not investigate. You can read more about the City Auditor's duties and responsibilities here.
How big is your staff? *
The Office of the City Auditor is currently staffed at 50% of a required level for a city of Oakland's size. My office employs 10 full-time positions, including myself. Eight of these positions are auditors; 2 are administrative.I also receive unpaid assistance from the help of college interns and Masters Fellows students.
By comparison, the City of Long Beach, CA is comparable in size by population and city employees; and they employ 16 full-time auditors, plus additional staff.
What is your budget and how is your Office funded?
For fiscal year 2008-09, the Office of the City Auditor's budget was $1.5 million with $250,000 designated solely for the Whistleblower/ Fraud, Waste & Abuse Unit.
How much money do you save the City? *
Over her tenure, every $1 spent by Oakland residents to fund this Office, the City Auditor returned a range from $4 to $9 by carefully analyzing policies and procedures that directly contribute to the City's coverall cost-saving and additional revenue gain.
What is a performance audit?
A performance audit looks at more than just money. It is a rigorous analysis of government operations that determine:
- How business processes are working or not working efficiently;
- Whether policies and procedures are effective;
- What internal controls need to be strengthened or implemented; and
- If programs are delivering the results promised to the taxpayers.
Essentially, it is a report card which demonstrates that your tax dollars are being spent as intended.
Why does your Office do performance audits?
Performance auditing is a standard practice within government auditing. Every audit we conduct includes specific recommendations for city officials to address the problems our audit identifies. Performance auditing is a critical tool for creating transparency, accountability and effectiveness in Oakland's government.
What happens after an audit is completed? Who is responsible for fixing the problems found in your audits?
All of our audits include recommendations to fix or strengthen the programs and systems that we've audited. After an audit is performed, the City Administration is responsible for implementing our recommendations to make the necessary changes. (Per the Charter and to preserve our independence, my Office has no authority in day-to-day management activities nor the ability to implement audit recommendations.)
Later, my Office will return to perform a follow-up audit to determine how well the City has implemented these recommendations. Read more about the audit process here.
Are audit results shared with City employees and managers?
Absolutely. As part of our audit standards, we work to keep the Administration informed at all steps of the audit process. For every audit we do, the department or division being audited is invited to prepare a written response, which is then included in the final audit report. Read more about our audit process here.
How do I know I can trust your audits?
All of our audits are performed according to Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS) guidelines. In March 2010, the Auditor's Office was found to have met the highest standards in government performance auditing. (To learn more, click here.) This means that all of our work is based strictly on fact, and each finding has documented evidence. Additionally, it means that we adhere to following the GAGAS guidelines with the necessatation of required planning and supervision, evidence collection and documentation, to conclude with both satifactory report contents and quality control elements. Read more about audit standards here.
To learn about the some of the results from our 2009 FW+A investigations, click here.
If an audit finds evidence of wrongdoing, what happens next?
For criminal acts, the City Auditor can refer information to the District Attorney for prosecution. Other evidence of wrongdoing may follow the City's personnel directives or other internal standards for discipline.
What can citizens like me do to improve the City of Oakland?
Oakland needs your help to create the level of transparency and accountability that we desire in City Hall. Here are three ways you can help:
- Sign up for our email alert list to stay informed. We will only send out emails when I have something important to say or when I need your help. You can sign up here. (external link);
- Communicate with my Office about audit recommendations and your concerns; and
- When I issue an audit, read the reports and contact the City Council and the Mayor to ensure the recommendations are implemented.