I recently had the honor of being unanimously appointed by my San Diego City Council colleagues to become chairman of the Audit Committee. The purpose of the audit committee is to help city employees run a better operation and save taxpayer dollars.
As a small-business owner, I am particularly excited about getting started with this new position. As those in the business community know, a company constantly reviews its internal operations and business practices, tracking every dollar, ensuring that it is being spent in the most efficient and effective way possible.
These audits are not only important to ensure that money is being spent the way it should be, but can also discover new ways to deliver better services to customers more cheaply.
Recent reports compiled by City Auditor Eduardo Luna and reviewed by the Audit Committee show great potential in reforming and streamlining city business.
A recent audit of the city’s graffiti-abatement program showed that one single graffiti complaint from a resident could be routed to up to three city departments before it removal. This results in costly delays, poor customer service and on some occasions, the graffiti complaint gets lost in the bureaucracy.
As a result of the study, a pilot program has been developed to streamline the reporting process and clean the blight of graffiti more quickly. Also, our strategy shifted from relying on a complaint approach to a more neighborhood-focused approach to combat the graffiti problem.
The new program will not only beautify communities and increase property value, but also save money for critical infrastructure needs and neighborhood services.
The Audit Committee is also moving forward with audits of the Balboa Park Committee, where millions of dollars of taxpayer money were spent for little or no results. Another important audit will be to investigate overtime pay for firefighters to see if there is a more effective staffing alternative to improve public safety.
Creating the audit report is only one part of the job, however; the next and probably most difficult part is to ensure that the City Council follows through with cost-saving reforms.
Many times, it takes years to implement proven reforms, or even worse, reports and recommendations are placed on a bureaucrat’s shelf to collect dust. As the audit chairman, I will do everything in my power to ensure that cost-saving recommendations are put into place in a timely manner.
I am also interested in hearing from members of the public and business community about what is working in our city government and what isn’t. If you have ideas on items the audit committee could look into, please email me. After all, we receive our best ideas from the public.