The Audit Connection Blog

New OPMA materials to help local governments navigate recent changes

The Municipal Research and Services Center, in partnership with the State Auditor's Office, revamped and expanded our materials covering the Open Public Meetings Act to help local governments better navigate recent changes. ... CONTINUE READING

Smart governments know cyber health is key. Talk to SAO’s Center for Government Innovation today about a free checkup!

Local governments are fast becoming attractive targets for cyber criminals because of the vast amounts of sensitive data they maintain about their employees, infrastructure and residents. To keep pace with the constantly evolving threats and tactics, it's essential that you understand how to minimize your government's risk of attack. ... CONTINUE READING

Updated contracting requirements tool can help ease your procurement woes

Procurement and competitive bidding laws can be complicated, often varying based on government type, the nature of the procurement, and the estimated cost, and it can be difficult to wade through existing requirements or stay updated on new ones. ... CONTINUE READING

Should you outsource your government’s payroll?

Preparing your government's payroll takes a lot of time and expertise. From collecting employee information, tracking leave, processing timesheets, and calculating pay to processing garnishments, delivering pay checks, submitting tax forms, and preparing year-end reporting, there's a lot to do. That's why some governments use a third party to do all or part of their payroll. But how do you determine if outsourcing payroll is right for your government? ... CONTINUE READING

Thanks for filing your fiscal year 2022 annual report on time

We at the State Auditor's Office extend our thanks to every local government that filed its fiscal year 2022 annual report on time! This year, about 87 percent of local governments met the annual filing deadline, proving once again that compliance, accountability and transparency matter in Washington state. We've updated the infographic below to show which governments filed on time, which filed late, and which haven't filed yet. How does your county compare to the rest? The graphic still updates daily, so check back as often as you'd like. ... CONTINUE READING

Emerging Issue: Emergency Connectivity Fund Program documentation challenges

This article was originally published in our special newsletter issue for the 2023 Washington Association of School Business Officials conference. Read the full issue here. While auditing school districts' federal programs this year, auditors have noted a challenge related to the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which was part of the federal government's COVID-19 relief package and intended to facilitate a fast conversion to remote learning. ... CONTINUE READING

Mandated vacations: Good for staff—and even better for your internal controls

When was the last time you looked at your finance team's vacation patterns? It may surprise you to learn that many frauds and other breaches of internal controls come to light only after employees go on vacation and other staff take over their tasks. For example, in one small Washington town, the clerk-treasurer had been generating herself an extra paycheck for three years and modifying reports so it wouldn't be detected by others. Town staff only discovered her fraudulent activity when she went on vacation. The clerk-treasurer had instructed her staff to hold some work while she was gone, but they ran the payroll register anyway and quickly detected her fraud. ... CONTINUE READING

SAO debuts new meter-reading resource for public utilities

Meter reading is the critical first step in a utility's revenue collection process. Gathering accurate, complete meter data is essential not only for collecting the appropriate amount of revenue to operate the utility, but also for ensuring a positive customer experience and public image. That's why it's so important that cities, counties, water districts and electric utility districts have strong internal controls over their meter reading. Poor meter-reading practices, such as not ensuring all properties are metered, estimating meter usage for too many months, or failing to follow up on red flags in the data, can significantly affect a utility's finances. ... CONTINUE READING

Attention schools and school districts: An SAO newsletter, just for you

The Washington Association of School Business Officials (WASBO) is hosting its annual conference this week in Spokane. SAO representatives will be there in person, sharing the latest news on financial reporting and auditing issues. As is our custom, we've created an Audit Connection newsletter designed just for schools and school districts. Those at the conference should stop by SAO's booth for a hard copy. We've also included it here as an interactive issue and downloadable PDF for easy digital reference. See the last page of the PDF for printing instructions. ... CONTINUE READING

Regional school safety centers meeting requirements, performance audit finds

Every educational service district in Washington has established a regional school safety center, conducted threat assessments, and offered trainings, resources and consultation to area schools, according to a performance audit released today. ... CONTINUE READING