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County gets help minding the books

After more than a year of planning, the Kitsap County Commissioners formally decided to hire an internal auditor to monitor county activities on Monday, Feb. 4.

It will be the first time in a decade the county has employed an internal auditor.

“An internal auditor can point out some savings for us, which is good, because there can be performance audits,” County Commissioner Chris Endresen said. “If a department’s program is to accomplish X, Y and Z for the year, an internal auditor can determine whether the department’s budget is being used as efficiently as possible to accomplish those goals.”

The position was included in the 2001 county budget, but Endresen said talks on a job description and other details took longer than expected.

The county will spend about $83,000 on the position this year, but officials said long-term savings will more than compensate for the up-front expense.

Not only can the internal auditor monitor policies and procedures and ensure efficiencies, it also could strengthen trust in government.

“I am very pleased we are going to have an internal auditor for Kitsap County,” County Auditor Karen Flynn said. “It is a position that is needed to assist with the county’s internal controls and cash-handling policies and to assure the county is doing a fine job.”

A three-member oversight committee will monitor progress and establish the auditor’s work plans.

Committee members include Flynn and county Administrator Malcolm Fleming. The third member will be a county elected official other than the three commissioners.

Day-to-day supervision of the internal auditor will be conducted by the county Auditor’s Office.

Seven people have applied for the position, according to the county Department of Personnel. Interviews haven’t been scheduled.

A previous internal auditor position was lost in the county’s budget shuffle, but county officials and department staff have been discussing resurrecting the position since mid-1990s.

“The internal auditor could do some pre-budgeting work by helping set up performance measures beforehand,” Commissioner Tim Botkin said. “That effort could also be tied into a six-year strategic planning model.”

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