Don't expect to see many audits coming out of City Hall this year.
City leaders hit 'reset' on Minneapolis' internal audit function this January after City Hall's lone auditor, Magdy Mossaad, left for a health care job in Florida. Several months later, they continue to mull over just what the city's auditing department should look like.
Council Member Linea Palmisano, who chairs the city's on-hiatus audit committee said a new auditor may be hired by September after a national search that will soon get underway. The internal audit function would begin in earnest in October.
No audits are currently underway except for a routine state audit of city finances. Palmisano said outside consultants would be retained if city department heads feel a particular audit already slated for this year is urgent. A separate team with the city coordinator's office helping improve departmental efficiency.
The approved 2014 audit plan includes reviewing the rebidding of the city's largest contract (with IT contractor Unisys), checking for adequate controls on city purchasing cards and ensuring city-owned iPads are secure.
Palmisano said that healthy audit functions they have reviewed -- such as Hennepin County -- help shape and improve new programs, rather than merely releasing reports about past activities.
"When we embed audit in the beginnings of something new, like in a new program, that helps to set it up for success," Palmisano said. "Unfortunately audit seems to be more of a ‘gotcha’ kind of function."
Another key change that Palmisano expects to see is that audit findings would automatically be forwarded to an appropriate City Council committee. The job will also likely be elevated to become a more highly paid position.
"I'd like it to help be one of the levels of greater transparency in government, whether it's more from an open data perspective and making things available and out there for more people," Palmisano said.
The latest city budget provides for three FTEs in the auditing department, an increase over the previous year. Palmisano said part of the reason the money isn't paying for outside consultants is that the 2014 approved audits -- in some cases -- were overly vague.
Outside reviewers concluded in 2009 that the city should employ at least three internal auditors. Hennepin County, by comparison, employs 13 in its internal audit department. St. Paul does not have dedicated auditors.