When you work in the realm of managing public dollars, trust is the one ingredient you can never afford to lose.
The push for greater transparency in government reflects one way we work to validate that trust by allowing folks to see what it is the government is buying, hiring and generally doing with our tax dollars. The computer age has made transparency much more possible and longterm that should strengthen the citizen-government relationship.
Cities are often accused of moving at the speed of a glacier, and while I don’t accept that indictment at face value, I also admit that the City is governed by many rules which add time to the things were working on.
I’m actually as impatient as the next guy but I know that those rules were created to add checks that limit the opportunties for trust to be violated — and that’s a good thing so I keep my impatience to myself. I still hate when a good idea is slow-rolled but I’ve learned to appreciate the value of deliberate (aka slow) steps taken in the name of progress.
The biggest trust test that the City puts itself through each year is the annual audit. The audit is the City’s performance evaluation from an accountant’s point of view. It’s an extremely thorough physical exam that is designed to point out any shortcomings and problems spots as early as possible so that our fiscal health remains sound for years to come.
To get the most out of the audit process we hire an independent 3rd party company to evaluate everything we do and compare it to best practices and state law. Rarely are cities so far off that they violate state law but best financial practices evolve all the time so the audit is a great way for cities to stay current, and more importantly, to reassure their residents that they are worthy of the trust that they are given.
I always learn something coming out of the annual audit and we take it as a point of pride when the auditor gives us good marks — which is why I’m pleased to report that the 2011 audit is done, the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is published, and as we hoped we received a clean audit with an unqualified opinion.
That’s great news for everyone that wears a City uniform because it means we’ve continued to deserve the trust that Kent puts in us.
Here’s the online version of the 2011 City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.