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Performance auditor to join county payroll

"The Kitsap Board of Freeholders voted Tuesday, May 22, to call for adding a performance auditor to county government.But the county commissioners beat them to the punch.The commissioners included $65,000 in the 2001 budget to hire an internal performance auditor, according to county Administrator Malcolm Fleming. County officials currently are working to generate a job description and prepare an ordinance authorizing a four-person committee to supervise the performance auditor.That work probably will be completed before the end of June, Fleming said, after which the county will start seeking applicants for the new job.The performance auditor job would ensure accountability to the public and promote efficient use of public resources, according to a draft job description.Fleming said that likely would include conducting financial audits, making sure the county complies with statutes and developing a quality assurance program.State Auditor Brian Sonntag's office conducts annual financial audits, which examine whether the county complies with state laws. The internal county performance auditor would go beyond that, Fleming said, into areas of efficiency and effectiveness.The county Auditor's Office handles a number of accounting and financial management functions, but also isn't responsible for looking into efficiency and effectiveness.County Commissioner Tim Botkin said the performance auditor could spend months auditing the work of a single department, and probably would complete only a couple reports per year. Nonetheless, Botkin said performance audits would more than pay for themselves.The commissioners feel performance audits would be most helpful to us. These are bigger, broader, how are you running your department type of audits, Botkin said.The performance auditor will report to a committee composed of Fleming, county Auditor Karen Flynn, and another elected county official who would serve on a rotating basis. The fourth member would be a Kitsap resident, selected by the county commissioners, with financial management experience.The position wouldn't require any additional support staff, Fleming said, and would be paid from the county's general administration and operations budget.The freeholders decided Tuesday that a performance auditor position created by the commissioners could just as easily be eliminated by the commissioners, so they voted 12-5 to codify the position in the new charter. The vote is considered a straw poll. The freeholders will revise their draft charter after a round of public hearings this summer before submitting the document to voters.I've worked in large organizations my entire life, both public and private, said freeholder Jack Hamilton of Silverdale. For an organization with 1,200 (employees) to not have a performance auditor doesn't make any sense.Port Orchard resident Avon Card told the freeholders a provision for performance audits would be a popular charter plank.I collected many of the 10,000 petition signatures necessary to trigger the charter process, Card said. This was the top draw. People said, can't we have a performance audit?Freeholder Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo called the position an unnecessary expense. Creating a performance auditor will cost more than just a salary, she said, because so many other things are brought in.The freeholders also voted unanimously to allow the county council to adopt a biennial budget cycle with a mid-biennium review.When you start studying this, it just makes sense, said freeholder Marcus Hoffman of Silverdale. The department heads are basically spending half their year working on budget issues. "

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