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Posted on: April 3, 2019

Accounting firm completes audits of police operations, financial month-end closing process

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RubinBrown Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants presented audits of the financial month-end close procedures and the Springfield Police Department’s operations at the Feb. 13 Finance and Administration Committee meeting.

The audits are part of a three-year audit plan approved by City Council in 2014. All City of Springfield audits can be viewed at springfieldmo.gov/opendata.

Financial Month-end Close Internal Audit

The audit was completed in May 2018 and included policies and procedures in place from July 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2017.

Best Practices

  • A monthly checklist for Accounts Payable is completed by the accountant that closes the subledger and is reviewed and approved by the Assistant Finance Director.
  • City departments complete close activities and submit supporting documentation timely each month.

  Observations and Recommendations

  • The Finance department follows an established timeline to close the general ledger each month. However, no formal close calendar or written monthly close procedures exist.
  • Key person risk exists in the cash reconciliation process. There are no detailed instructions on how to re-perform the process and one accountant is responsible for completing the complex reconciliation each month. 

Process Improvement Opportunity

RubinBrown noted the following process improvement opportunity during its review. The observation is not considered an internal control weakness; however, the firm recommends City management consider the observation and take action where appropriate. 

  • Review the chart of accounts and deactivate unused and duplicate segment values where possible. Consider incorporating chart of accounts reviews as part of year-end close activities. 

Police Operations Internal Audit 

The audit was completed in August 2018 and covers limited testing of transactions from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. 

Best Practices

  • The policies and procedures used by the Springfield Police Department are documented in the Standard Operating Guidelines, which are publicly available to all citizens on the department’s website. Each policy is reviewed at least annually in a process led by the Policy Corporal and employees are encouraged to submit suggestions for policy changes at any time during the year.
  •  The Property Room at the police headquarters building is well organized. Each area has specific sub-locations, such as a shelf number or box number that is recorded in Niche Record Management System and allows evidence to be located more quickly by Property Room staff. Access is restricted by card reader to just four Property Room employees and two supervisors.
  • Springfield Police Department has a dedicated Accreditation Manager who is responsible for monitoring the on-going CALEA Accreditation process. The department is expanding the use of the accreditation software, Power DMS, to all employees in order to make policy acknowledgment and review procedures more efficient.

Observations and Recommendations

  • A comparison of the building access listing to the police department employee list concluded there were enabled access cards for persons who were not authorized to have access at the time of the comparison.
  • Petty cash receipts within the Special Investigations Unit were not required to be approved before disbursement was made.
  • A sample inventory check of agency-owned equipment revealed discrepancies between the locations of two pieces of equipment as recorded in the system versus the actual location of the equipment.
  • A comparison of the logical user access listing for Niche, Quarter Master, and Administrative Investigative Management System (AIM) to the police department employee list determined there were three employees whose software access was not removed timely following the employee’s departure from the department.

Process Improvement Opportunities 

RubinBrown noted the following process improvement opportunities during its review. 

  • Develop a complete list of locations where agency-owned equipment is held and update Quarter Master to allow users to assign equipment to one of those locations. Train each user of Quarter Master to assign in-stock inventory to a specific location. Continue to update Quarter Master on an ongoing basis and in conjunction with the periodic audits recommended so that each in-stock item in inventory is assigned to a location.
  • Instead of writing a check in the petty cash custodian’s name, consider having the petty cash custodian obtain the replenishment funds directly from the City Cashier using the same reconciliation paperwork and approvals currently in place.
  • Because the warehouse used as overflow storage space for evidence does not have windows, employees working inside are not able to view the exterior of the building from the inside. In order to improve the safety of employees exiting the building, a means of viewing outside the building before exiting should be installed. 
  • Consider automating the training request forms and approval workflow used by Police Department employees to attend external trainings to make the request process more efficient. Research the feasibility of using existing software such as Power DMS for this task. For example, an employee may send a training request to an administrative assistant who enters the request to be digitally approved within the program. Evaluate the chain-of-command with respect to external training requests to determine the appropriate level(s) of approval necessary. 
  • Consider discontinuing the procedure of disclosing grammatical changes in the footnotes to changed policies because such changes are already documented in the Policy Change Order Form. However, revisions that change the spirit or meaning of the policy should continue to be disclosed in the footnotes. This practice will reduce the number of footnotes over time and reduce the administrative output required to track minor changes. This practice can be modified as the department works to automate its policy change and/or policy acknowledgement processes with Power DMS in the near future.

   Zone 3 Councilman Mike Schilling is the chair of City Council's Finance and Administration Committee, which reviewed the audits.

   “Internal audits provide important information to the City’s leadership team, as well as accountability to the taxpayers,” Schilling said.

   The other members of the committee are general councilmen Craig Hosmer and Richard Ollis and Zone 4 Councilman Matthew Simpson.

    ###

    For more information contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), cscott@springfieldmo.gov. 

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