Redevelopment audit recommendations must prompt action
November 7, 2008
We sincerely hope there is no one in city government thinking that a recent critical audit of the city’s Redevelopment Authority and Office of Business Development should be filed away on a shelf and forgotten.
The public trust is at stake.
The audit raised troubling questions about the office, including that it “lacked clear and consistent policies and procedures under which to operate,” that it had “a very clear deficiency in the ‘checks and balances’ of the Redevelopment process,” which “… places the City’s internal controls over the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars at risk.” Specific examples cited in the audit included a lack of a competitive bid process and occasions where controls were compromised or ignored.
For an office that administers hundreds of thousands of dollars, that’s serious business.
At this stage, it may be too great a leap to suggest there was intentional wrongdoing. In fact, no one questions the passion of the Redevelopment employees, who indeed can produce a resume of successes they have achieved in their mission of enhancing business opportunities and making improvements in the city’s two redevelopment areas.
However, the findings of this audit must result in action to correct the problems and to address the basic issue of how they occurred, whether that is faulty processes or mismanagement.
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There are positive signs in that the audit notes the staff has been proactive in its response to solving the problems. Also, supervisors have acted to curb the independence of the redevelopment office’s spending practices.
Government at all levels must operate in full view of those it serves, with a special emphasis on the expenditure of tax dollars. By implementing and abiding by strict controls and oversight, the perception of any wrongdoing is eliminated.