INTERNAL AUDIT FUNCTION DESIGNED TO ENSURE COUNTY ACCOUNTABILITY

INTERNAL AUDIT FUNCTION DESIGNED TO ENSURE COUNTY ACCOUNTABILITY

A new year of accountability for Doña Ana County is coming in 2005, when the new Internal Audit Advisory Committee begins its work to ensure that internal control systems are working properly to protect the manner in which public funds are being processed and handled by county government.

The Board of County Commissioners first suggested the Internal Audit Advisory Committee in mid-2004, and the Commission on Oct. 26 appointed the committee’s citizen members. The independent auditing firm of Marcus, Fairall, Bristol & Co., LLP, was retained last May at a cost to the county of $60,000 annually.

The committee that will steer the internal auditing process consists of District 1 Commissioner Oscar Vásquez Butler, District 3 Commissioner Paul B. Curry, Internal Auditor David Marcus and Doña Ana County residents David M. Conner, C. R. Rick Merolla and Pat Mitchell.

This committee will give direction to the internal auditor, who will in turn work closely with the Finance Department. The auditor will, from time to time, require access to files and personnel from all departments in the county. In those cases, cooperation is mandated for department heads and strongly encouraged for elected officials.

The internal audit function is designed to strengthen county procedures and to emphasize accountability to the taxpayers. The committee will work closely with the Internal Auditor to develop a comprehensive plan for studying problem areas and recommending workable solutions to the Board of County Commissioners and the county manager that can subsequently be implemented.

The committee met several times in 2004 to familiarize the members with key county personnel and to craft a mission and strategy for the internal audit process.

“This is a brand new era of accountability for county government,” said County Manager Brian D. Haines. “I look forward to being able to show the taxpayers of Doña Ana County that we take the expenditure of public funds very seriously, and this committee will help us make the process both transparent and reflective of that commitment.”