DENVER – Accountability, transparency, financial assessments, and social services are all priorities for upcoming audits, according to the 2020 Audit Plan released today from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA.
According to the Denver Charter, the Auditor must release a plan for the year ahead on the third Monday in October each year. While the plan can change as the need arises throughout the year, the listed audits give city leaders and the public an idea of the Auditor’s priorities and planned work.
“Money is the lifeblood of government,” Auditor O’Brien said. “We will continue to conduct both financial and performance audits to help city agencies and organizations improve and serve the people as best as possible.”
Some audits on the list are carried over from 2019 due to ongoing work, while other planned audits are new and based on concerns from the public and city leaders. The Auditor’s Office delivers independent, transparent, and professional oversight on behalf of the people of Denver.
New this year, Auditor O’Brien added an audit of transparency and public notice requirements for the city. This is an issue many residents told the Auditor they were concerned about, and he recognizes it as a high-impact issue for people who live and work in our community.
Also new to the list is an audit of an overdue building renovation for the Sheriff’s Department. This audit is based on an internal tip about concerns related to the work process.
“We use an intensive risk assessment process to identify where we can focus our resources each year,” Auditor O’Brien said. “I work with my team to reach out to the mayor, City Council, city management and, of course, the people of Denver to ask what keeps them up at night. Then, we try to determine what resources we have and where our work might do the most good.”
Other upcoming audits include an audit of the neighborhood sidewalk repair program and an audit assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the city’s recycling and composting program.
Audits already underway from the 2019 Audit Plan and continuing into 2020 include an audit of how some city agencies respond to Colorado Open Records Act requests and an audit examining the physical security in city facilities.
“Auditing is not a quick process,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Under my administration, our audits are trying to assess substantive parts of these important programs, including both financial and performance elements. I believe this diligent approach is the best way to serve the people and make the city better.”
Auditor O’Brien and his team will also continue his innovative initiative to use data analysis and continuous auditing techniques to strengthen audit analysis, evidence, and recommendations. Using automated analysis, the Auditor and his team are able to look at thousands of data entries and transactions and identify areas of high risk, instead of relying only on traditional sampling methods.
This year, the data analytics team connected our audit software to an internally developed dashboard. Using automated systems and further audit analysis, our team was able to analyze risky transactions on purchase cards for vendors like Venmo and PayPal. We were also able to expand analysis of tax write-off requests. This kind of information can help inform our audits and make more efficient use of our resources.
Other ongoing areas of concern and high priorities for auditing include construction projects and cybersecurity.
“Denver is growing, and capital construction is happening faster than ever, due to bond money and large projects like the National Western Complex and the Great Hall at the airport,” Auditor O’Brien said. “We need to do everything we can to keep an eye on what the city pays for and what Denver taxpayers get in return.”
The Auditor’s Office collects community input on audits and concerns throughout the year and submits them to a risk tracker for annual assessment and potential resource allocation. Residents are encouraged to stay in touch all year by emailing email@example.com or reaching out on social media.