Audit Us, All of Us: A Eugene performance auditor could bring transparency and efficiency

In the November 14, 2013, issue of the Eugene Weekly, reporter Shannon Finnell writes:

Oregon is a hotbed of auditing,” says Michael Eglinski, a performance auditor from Kansas. But Eugene, Oregon’s second-largest city, doesn’t have a performance auditor. For years, Eugeneans have tried to evaluate whether the city is big enough, and its operations complex enough, to warrant a performance auditor.

After using reserves to plug a $5 million shortfall in its General Fund, the city scheduled a series of Budget Committee meetings to allow a slower, more in-depth process for fiscal year 2015’s budget. The city assembled the Financial Investigative Team (FIT), a citizens committee that looked into aspects of the budget.

FIT committee member Ruth Duemler says the experience raised a lot of questions — about retirement costs, overtime costs, management-to-employee ratios, police deployments, the extent of tax breaks, the best ways to predict tax revenue — that a performance auditor could best answer. “The whole study was too short, and I don’t know that our committee was valuable,” she says, adding that in one instance, the information for a meeting was sent to FIT members the evening before their meeting.

Performance auditors study how governments provide programs and services and make recommendations to improve that performance, save money or avoid trouble in the first place. Portland is the only Oregon city that has an independent performance auditor. The office recently made headlines when it reported “alarming lapses” in the Portland Police Bureau’s accountability. …

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