I don’t think any of us who attended last year’s Washington Finance Officers Association conference in Yakima could have predicted that this year we’d be meeting in an all-virtual conference. Even so, we at the State Auditor’s Office are looking forward to seeing you online. And I would like to thank all of our partners in local government for working with us through the many twists and turns of the past year.
Last winter, we saw action at the state and local level to increase government accountability. That includes work by local governments to help small, special-purpose districts file their annual reports with SAO, and work by the Legislature to address the very few districts that do not file as required and are declared “unauditable.”
Since then, governments have been buffeted by the changes in operations required by the pandemic and social distancing, a steep drop in revenues for many, and a surge in emergency federal funding. We know you’ve been racing to stay on top of it all, and this edition of the Audit Connection is intended to help.
Inside this issue, you’ll find tools and best practices on how to make a remote audit successful. It discusses our new COVID-19 Guidance Toolkit, a webpage designed to help you quickly find the accountability information you need. And it has details about our billing rate for 2021, which will be unchanged from 2020.
I believe communication is critical, especially in the current environment. This newsletter is part of our ongoing efforts to stay in touch, and we hope it is a key resource for you during this year’s WFOA conference. Although we can’t meet in person at this year’s event, we have sponsored a virtual booth and I invite you to “stop by” with your questions.
No doubt, there are more twists and turns in store for us in the months ahead. It takes a lot of effort for governments to be nimble and adapt to new circumstances, but I believe we are all up to the challenge. For example, this year 93 percent of governments have filed their annual financial reports as required. That is a testament to how hard you’ve been working, despite ever-changing situations.
I hope you will stay connected with us. We’re committed to being creative and finding ways to work with you to ensure audits can be completed. Especially when public resources are under pressure, the public expects government transparency and accountability. Thanks to your partnership, I am confident that we can meet those expectations, and any challenge that comes our way.