Five city agencies will undergo audits next year – and another eight will be examined in 2016 – to fulfill a charter amendment requiring quadrennial (every fourth year) financial and performance reviews.
Under questioning by The Brew, Finance Director Henry J. Raymond said Wednesday that outside firms will audit Police, Public Works, Recreation and Parks, Transportation and his own department in calendar year 2015.
Except for Rec and Parks, no city agency has been audited for at least 25 years – and political pressure has been growing over the lack of progress by the administration in starting the audit process mandated by voters in 2012.
“The external audit firms are being brought in for final instruction this week,” Raymond said. “Agency heads selected for the first round of audits have been previously notified and will be updated within the next couple of weeks. Our goal is to present this information to the Board of Estimates before the end of December.”
In response to another question, he said, “What we will be presenting to the Board of Estimates will be the specific vendors and dollar amounts for the engagements to perform the audit of the selected agencies.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who listened to Raymond at her weekly press conference, said she had no updates on the audit matter.
Council to Hold Hearings
This was the first public disclosure of an audit schedule. It came two days after Councilman Carl Stokes, head of the taxation and finance committee, announced he would hold a hearing on December 3 to examine why the audit process has been so slow. Raymond is one of the officials asked to testify.
Since passage of the charter amendment in November 2012, only Rec and Parks has been audited – and that audit was agreed upon by the administration and Stokes before voters approved the amendment.
Robert L. McCarty, the city auditor, conducted the Rec and Parks review, which took more than a year to complete. The highly critical audit, released last April, is still “open” with five of six recommendations for financial reform not yet completed. Rec and Parks has been granted three extensions to institute recommendations made by the auditor.
McCarty’s office, which is under the supervision of City Comptroller Joan Pratt, will not be involved in the next round of audits, according Raymond’s remarks on Wednesday.
Pratt has repeatedly clashed with the mayor over audits, blaming her for not increasing McCarty’s staff, while the mayor has chided Pratt for not being more aggressive in conducting audits in prior years. Pratt has been city comptroller since 1995.
The eight agencies scheduled to be audited in 2016 are Fire, General Services, Housing and Community Development, Human Resources, Law, Planning, the Baltimore Development Corp., and Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT).
Under the charter amendment, audits for the 13 agencies are required “at least once during every four-year term of the Mayor and City Council,” giving a presumed deadline of December 2016 for their completion.