Our Corner | Sheriff's office needs better accountability

Last week’s discovery that the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office wasn’t adequately keeping track of employees’ vacation time should leave taxpayers with many questions.

Through an audit by the Washington State Auditor’s office, it was discovered that the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office misappropriated 1,166 hours of leave to 110 of the office’s 115 employees. Some employees were given extra unearned paid leave while others were not credited with enough leave.

The mistake was traced to a single clerical employee who apparently didn’t know how to do her job. The auditor’s report stated that the sheriff’s office failed to provide adequate oversight for the employee who is called a timekeeper. She was removed from that job after the auditor’s report was issued.

The sheriff’s office replied that the timekeeper was “making numerous errors and concealing the mistakes” from the agency in her first position. When she failed at her new position, she was put on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues.

The auditor’s report also stated that for the past four audits, the sheriff’s office has been told that it needed more internal controls.

While the sheriff’s office has reconciled the leave discrepancies with all the affected employees and has implemented changes in the processes, taxpayers should be concerned.

Just the fact that the Sheriff office’s internal controls have been questioned for four audits, and until this last one nothing was changed, is enough to question what’s going on in the sheriff’s office.

In any government agency, issues that involve taxpayer’s money should have a check and re-check procedure that involves more than one employee looking at the numbers.

It will help to have all the department’s employees on a new timekeeping system, instead of split between two. But it would be wise for the sheriff’s office to review its training procedures and make sure all of their employees know their jobs and are performing them up to par.

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