The Case for Proposition K - An Efficiency Audit

By Frank Rodriguez

October 25, 2018


BACKGROUND


On November 6, in addition to the election of local and State-wide officials, Austin voters will consider various local propositions. Proposition K calls for a third-party efficiency audit of the $4.1 billion City of Austin budget. Supporters believe the effort would increase transparency at the city, and the city’s $4.1 billion deserves a comprehensive review of the various programs and services. As organizations grow, they naturally build inefficiencies into their operations and require a check-up on a periodic basis. A comprehensive efficiency audit of the City has never been done. Opponents argue the that City already has an Office of Auditor with an annual $3 million budget that already audits city programs and regulations. Moreover, the same opponents further argue that the politically motivated the 501(C4) organization that initiated the petition that got the proposition on the ballot has not been forthcoming about their funding sources and are tied to a conservative agenda to slash and burn the city budget. The sample ballot is shown below.



DISCUSSION

Being a former City of Austin Budget Director and most recently working in the Mayor’s office with the new 10-1 Council I worked on the budget for the Mayor for three years and left in 2017. have worked in and have had a life-long interest in public budgeting, program analysis, program evaluation, and performance and efficiency audits. I thought my perspective might be helpful to understand the pros and cons of the City conducting a City-wide efficiency audit as called for in Proposition K.


Argument against Proposition K: The Independent external audit is based on a conservative driven agenda to simply cut the budget without regard to the City’s values.


Efficiency audits can be a powerful contributor to effective and accountable government. There is, however, a gap between between the powerful impact it could have and that which it is actually having. The Austin City Council would have full control on scoping an efficiency audit for procurement and then deciding on which recommendations to act on upon completion of the efficiency audit.

Government uses both money and power to achieve results. Citizens are as concerned with the misuse of power as they are with the waste of resources. John Norquist, the former Milwaukee Mayor who has been described by Governing magazine as a “fiscally conservative socialist” who later led the Congress for the New Urbanism, has written, “Efficiency in government is a matter of social justice. Every tax dollar controlled by government is taken from the taxpayer who earned it. Wasting money shows contempt for the labor that produced that money.” Nearly universally, performance and efficiency auditors define a successful audit as one that results in better government decisions and outcomes. An efficiency audit can advance performance management in the City of Austin by: (1) giving management valuable recommendations for improving program performance; (2) assessing performance information and its reliability and relevance; (3) defining better measures of performance; and, (4) assisting elected officials and citizens concerning performance management.

Efficiency and effectiveness reviews to make government work better is not an idea that is conservative or liberal. During the 1990s and early 2000 John Sharp, Democratic State Comptroller began working to fulfill his pledge to "make government work more like our most successful businesses." According to the State Comptroller website, during his eight years as Comptroller, Sharp established the Texas Performance Review (TPR), an ongoing audit on state government. During Sharp's two 4-year terms as Comptroller, the TPR identified more than $8.5 billion in taxpayer savings and changed the way government does business through such innovations as the Council on Competitive Government. Other innovative programs created and implemented by Sharp during these eight years included Texas School Performance Reviews.


I assisted this effort as a contractor and worked on the Texas School Performance Review, an outgrowth of TPR, which showed public school districts how to save more than $350 million, while keeping scarce education funds in the classroom where they belong and easing the burden on local taxpayers.


In May 2016 LULAC District VII presented the first annual report on the State of Latinos for Austin, Texas. I was the principal author of the report. Founded in 1929, LULAC is the oldest, largest, and most widely respected Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States of America. LULAC prepared this report because racism is embedded in our institutions and culture and continues to exert great influence on how social benefits and burdens are distributed. The State of Latinos Austin Texas (SOLATX) identified 14 strategies and policies to help bridge the affordability gap that Latinos and other people of color are experiencing.

Of the list of 14 policy initiatives, one in particular related to the need for a performance and efficiency audit of Central Health because of concerns that Central Health was diverting funds intended for indigent health care instead to other non-mission related purposes. Central Health with much reluctance finally agreed to an audit because the Travis County Commissioners who have legal oversight of Central Health’s budget and tax rate supported the need for the audit.


Are efficiency audits code for cuts? In some cases, of course, but as stated earlier an efficiency audit to make government work better is not an idea that is conservative or liberal. There are some things that government do that are inefficient but necessary. They do things that the market can’t or won’t do in the same, required ways. Austin’s political leadership knows this distinction but also should also have no objection to improving government efficiency when/where required. Adopting an efficiency mindset and identifying behaviors that trigger organizational change does not mean adopting a culture focused on efficiency that will strangle growth or degrade citizen services and programs. Data shows that government who embrace and efficiency mindset are more likely to say their cost efforts enabled growth rather than hindered it. They are also more likely to report improved customer experience. An efficiency audit will provide a blueprint for embedding efficiency in the City of Austin’s DNA.

Argument against Proposition K: The Office of City Auditor (OCA) is already doing efficiency audits


It is important to distinguish between an efficiency audit and a program/performance audit. An efficiency audit focuses on achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. A performance audit focuses on effectiveness in reviewing whether a program is successfully producing a desired or intended result, fulfilling a specified function in fact. The City of Austin’s Office of Auditor conducts program and performance audits to review aspects of a City service or program and provide recommendation for improvement. They select audits with direction from the City Council that will add the most value for the City. However, the City Auditor only does 10 to 12 audits per year and has never conducted an audit of even an entire department, let alone, all City Departments.


An efficiency audit sometimes called economy and efficiency audit focuses on the resources and practices of a program or department. An economy and efficiency audit might analyze the procurement, maintenance and implementation of resources such as equipment to identify areas that require improvement. Alternately, it might examine the practices of a department or program to find inefficient or wasteful processes.


Overlap exists between the two types of audits, because they both analyze performance. For example, a program audit might examine whether a department is complying with local regulations as part of its overall examination of the department’s effectiveness. The difference between the two types of audits primarily lies in where they focus their efforts. Specifically, efficiency focus on analyzing resource management and how this affects performance. Program audits examine performance in the context of the entity’s role within the organization if it is achieving its aims.


Often others will confuse or conflate program/performance auditing with efficiency auditing. I reviewed 52 audits by the OCA over four years that are summarized and shown on Attachment A. Specifically my interest was to determine if the Office of the Auditor was indeed already providing the efficiency audit function that Proposition K calls for.


The results of my review are that the Office of Auditor is not focused on doing efficiency audits. They are conducting performance audits and not efficiency audits. I captured all documented cost savings over 52 audits and found that there was very little “savings” or “cost avoidance” documented in the audits. Again, the Office of the Auditor’s audits are not intended to be efficiency audits. The theme of their audits are primarily service effectiveness, employee and public safety, governance, and safeguarding of assets. The return on investment from the City Auditor’s audits are really measured in terms of service effectiveness and not ROI on potential and actual savings. The potential for an ROI for an efficiency audit is reducing external costs, reducing personnel costs, increasing cost recovery, organizational restructuring, outsourcing operations, and increasing revenue.


Argument for Proposition K: Focus on wholesale evaluation of entire departments rather than just specific programs


In 2015 I drafted a Sunset Review program for the Mayor for consideration to be funded in the budget. The purpose of the Sunset Review program was to mirror the State of Texas’ and other cities like Dallas to determine efficiency and effectiveness through a process in reviewing rotating departments and programs to find problems and opportunities early in the process before the next budget to be presented by the City Manager. The Sunset Review program and associated budget were approved by Council but when it came down to being implemented the City Manager opted to implement a different approach instead focused on improving performance indicators and metrics for city departments. He used internal funds that he had identified to implement this. As a result, the budget for the Sunset Review program was put back into other Council initiatives and the program was never implemented.


In 2017, I was invited by the Charter Commission to propose a budget initiative that would give the Council the capacity to conduct independent analysis of the City Manager’s proposed budget. My research showed that many cities have created a separate Office of Budget Analysis to provide Mayors and City Councils the resources they need to have an independent assessment of the City Manager’s budget from an efficiency, effectiveness, and economy perspective. My proposal for an independent office of budget analysis received unanimous recommendation from the Charter Commission to go the City Council for their approval. Unfortunately, the City Council did not act on this recommendation.


These are two examples of my attempts to promote an assessment of entire departments on a regular basis pursuant to a detailed, public and well-crafted plan, as opposed to the ad-hoc system of being driven by requests of individual city council members as issues that come to their attention.


Outcomes Budgeting vs. Efficiency


The City Manager is the City’s Budget Officer. The City Council has just a few weeks to consider and affect his budget recommendation after he delivers the budget. There have been four (4) budgets completed by the new 10-1 Council. There have been very little available funds for the Council to deliberate over to fund City Council priorities after they receive the City Manager’s budget. Essentially the City Council spends weeks deliberating over several million available funds out of a $4 billion budget.


The City’s traditional program budgeting has been organized around city departments and uses the previous year’s spending as the starting point for any department budget increase or decrease. The latest change in the City Manager’s budget format is moving the budget from a program budget to an “outcomes or impact” based budget (OBB) where there is greater use of data and evidence is used to improve outcomes. Outcomes budgeting is a budget process that aligns resources with results. The budget is organized at the service level around the City’s priority outcomes. One benefit of the outcomes budgeting approach is that it may open up the black box of the base budget and allow the City Council to prioritize spending based on desired outcomes. However, outcomes budgeting is a multi-year process because there will be certain weaknesses which need to be addressed at the earliest that relate to lack of clarity between inputs, outputs, and outcomes and a methodology to link outlays to outcomes with an emphasis being given on monitoring and evaluation of programs.


In reviewing other cities’ experience with outcomes budgeting a recurring issue is that there has been the lack of any linkage between spending and outcomes in the budget and it is difficult to identify how resources are used to deliver outcomes: in particular, it is hard to identify and cost the unit costs of discrete activities. This makes it hard to assess the role of different activities in achieving outcomes. The outcomes of services and programs also depend on a number of factors that are outside the control of policy makers, at least in the short run. It has been difficult to find empirical data to support the claim that outcomes budgeting contributes to aggregate financial discipline as the main aim of an outcomes budget is not the efficient allocation of public expenditures. The first question of outcomes budgeting should be if efficiency is actually used in the allocation of resources and the second is if it is used as part of government expenditure prioritization, then it should seek to reallocate resources towards high priority areas and away from lower-level priorities. Without an efficiency audit, which Proposition K calls for, the city only has part of the information they need to make the most informed decisions.


Due to outcomes being driven by multiple internal and external factors, an efficiency audit can provide benchmarks that find a direct correlation between resources deployed and outcomes achieved. An efficiency audit can assist in providing ‘proof of concept’ for outcomes budgeting and build confidence in the approach. An efficiency audit can help the City Council to reduce costs by identifying budgets that do not contribute enough to outcomes, simultaneously driving better outcomes by highlighting areas where investment can be more effective. It can also help provide a clear narrative for Council Members and the public, a narrative that conveys the Council’s intent to improve services in priority areas, whilst also driving value for money.


RECOMMENDATION



  1. An efficiency audit should be implemented by a third party. The focus should be on return on investment as discussed earlier. This will be the “blueprint” for follow-up implementation and further audit work.

  2. Thereafter, the OCA should be given additional resources with essential specializations to implement and oversee the efficiency audit recommendations with an ROI focus. The return on investment should be sufficient to offset the increased costs of adding staff.



Attachment A – Summary of Reviewed OCA Audits from October 2014 to September 2018


 

Audit Date

Audit Report

Scope

Results

Theme/

Performance Outcome

Savings,

Avoided Costs,

Economy

1

Oct-14

Austin Public Library Service Delivery Measures Audit

Evaluate City measures used to track effectiveness and equity of library services compared to industry practices

Library's use of performance measures is line with industry practices and peer libraries. Library does not track equity measures as a separate goal. Data reliability needs to be strengthened

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

2

Oct-14

Performance Management System Audit

Determine whether the City's performance measurement system provides timely, accurate, and relevant information for use by decision makers

More efforts needed to sustain City's Managing by Results Guide (MFR) to ensure reliable information. Strengthen implementation of City's performance measurement system.

No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

3

Nov-14

Cemetery Sales Administration and Management Audit

Review of cemetery revenue collection, accounting and vendor payments as compared to applicable laws.

General lack of oversight which resulted in errors and inaccuracies in the administrative processes. Issues in processing of burial space sales and improper cash handling practices. Adequate monitoring and oversight needed and PARD should conduct and document a review of the cemetery accounting system.

Effective use of resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

4

Dec-14

Building and Development Fees Audit

Determine whether the Planning and Development Review Department (RDRD) assesses land development-related fees in accordance with the City Council approved fee schedule.

High incidence of errors there is no assurance that customers are consistently charged accurate building and development fees and that the City is recovering the costs of providing land development related services.

Effective use of resources/Undercharges of as much as $28,800 and revenue loss of $100,000.

$128,000

5

Dec-14

Short-Term Rental Registration and Tax Compliance Audit

Determine whether lodging partners comply with City Code requirements regarding Short Term Rental registration, reporting and remittance of taxes; and determine whether the City provides sufficient guidance and enforcement to ensure compliance with STR regulations

Three of five STRs examined submitted corrected tax payments to the City. City is not following up on letters of noncompliance. Controller should collect the tax deficiency and credit or refund the overpayment identified in the audit.

Compliance/For the five properties reviewed: Net impact of ($202)

-$202.00

6

Apr-15

Animal Services Program Audit

Evaluate Animal Services operations as compared to best practices and to determine whether they comply with applicable laws, regulations, and policies

Animal Services does not have sufficient facilities and resources allocated to meet the City's live outcome goal and remain in line with State requirements and industry best practices. Should implement kennel shelter operations and implement strategies to ensure Animal Services complies with state requirements. Also, to ensure information is collected on department operations.

Compliance/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

7

Apr-15

Hazardous Materials Storage and Handling Audit Series - PARD

Evaluate high-risk issues related to the storage and handling of hazardous materials in PARD specifically the tracking and storage of hazardous materials.

PARD is not consistently storing, securing, or monitoring hazardous materials property increasing the risk of injury. PARD does not require that all employees with frequent exposure to hazardous materials attend routine training on hazardous materials.

Employee Safety/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

8

Apr-15

Hazardous Materials Storage and Handling Audit Series - Public Works Department (PWD)

Evaluate high-risk issues related to the storage and handling of hazardous materials in PWD specifically the tracking and storage of hazardous materials.

PWD is not properly storing, securing, or monitoring hazardous materials property increasing the risk of injury.

Employee Safety/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

9

May-15

Airport Rental Car Concession Agreement Audit

Whether procedures are in place to ensure concession fees received by the City are in conformity with agreements.

A separate contractor issued audit reports that found that one rental care company owed $15,000 in concession fees and another did not report revenue for off-airport locations.

Safeguarding of assets/$15,000 in owed concessions.

$15,000.00

10

Jun-15

Sewer Overflow Prevention and Response Audit

Evaluate the Austin Water Utility's effort to prevent and respond to sewer overflows from pipes and lift stations

93% of reportable wastewater overflows were properly reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ); however, Austin Water the data may not be complete because the system that tracks overflows lacks certain information technology controls.

Service effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

11

Aug-15

Water Loss Management Audit

Evaluate Austin Water's efforts to mitigate and report water loss.

Austin Water has implemented several water loss mitigation activities however it has not addressed loss resulting from inaccurate water meters. The loss represents $4 million in lost revenue for Austin Water.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

12

Sep-15

Procurement Card Usage Audit - Communications and Technology Management (CTM)

Evaluate CTM's usage of procurement cards as compared to City policies and best practices

CTM could not provide supporting documentation or evidence for certain purchases. CTM should ensure Citywide procurement card policies are communicated to employees.

Effective use of resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

13

Oct-15

Austin Energy Low-Income Weatherization Program Audit

Determine if Austin Energy is administering the weatherization program effectively and efficiently.

Austin Energy did not spend all its funds set aside for weatherization; did not provide weatherization services to some identified low-income customers; and provided weatherization services to a small number of homes that were not qualified to receive those services.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

14

Nov-15

Prioritization of Affordable Housing Development Audit

Evaluate the effectiveness of the the City's Neighborhood Housing and Community Development department (NHCD) strategic planning process to prioritize and address the City's affordable housing goals and needs through housing developer assistance programs.

There is not an effective strategy to ensure that the City meets its affordable housing needs. Key information needed to evaluate program effectiveness was incomplete, inaccurate, or unavailable. NHCD has gaps in their monitoring process for affordable units.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

15

Dec-15

Airport Construction Projects Audit

Evaluate the City's process related to construction projects at ABIA. The audit scope included activities related to the construction of the remain overnight apron and other projects.

The Aviation Department is following industry best practices to manage the project and no significant deficiencies were noted related to vendor invoices, change orders, and inspection reports.

Safeguarding of Assets/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

16

Apr-16

Consistency of Austin Code Investigations and Resolutions Audit

Determine whether the Austin Code Department was consistently receiving timely and accurate complaints regarding code violations, and to determine if reported code violations are consistently interpreted, investigated and resolved.

Code violation investigation, documentation, and resolution practices vary across cases, due to a lack of management oversight. Investigation and resolutions practices relating to City-owned properties often differed from code policies and procedures. Not all field and management meet the current minimum qualifications specified by the department.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

17

Apr-16

COA Utility Customer Care Audit

Evaluate satisfaction with the level of customer service provided to city utility customers.

Escalations of customer complaints related to Austin Water have struggled to achieve a similar level of satisfaction for Austin Energy and factors delaying complaint resolutions include a lack of defined expectations between the departments and unclear roles in resolving water-related customer service issues.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

18

Apr-16

Transportation Effectiveness Audit

Evaluate whether the City effectively manages transportation system planning and balances safety and flow concerns for all users.

More needs to be done to address key issues affecting transportation management and planning: (1) City has not effectively coordinated among City departments; (2) transportation activities have been reactive; (3) City has not fully captured or utilized crash information to improve traffic safety.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

19

Jun-16

Language Access Audit

Determine how the City manages language assistance services, whether the services align with community needs, and how these services compare with similar entities

The City may not be meeting the needs of all residents. Current practices are not fully aligned with efforts identified in effective programs and peer cities. Most City departments that receive federal assistance have not completed a required language access statement. City departments spend $2 million per year on bilingual pay programs, but inconsistent oversight limits their ability to know whether employees are providing effective language assistance services, or the programs are an effective use of city resources. Recommend design a language access program and designate a person with authority to manage this program.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

20

Jun-16

Austin Water Central Stores Inventory Management Audit

Determine whether Austin Water is managing inventory in their central stores effectively and efficiently.

Austin Water has established procedures to guide staff about how to track and safeguard inventory. However, current practices at Austin Water do not fully ensure that inventory is accurate and safeguarded. As a result, adequate inventory may not be available to meet the needs of customers and City resources may not be used effectively.

Safeguarding of Assets/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

21

Jun-16

Bridge Safety Audit

Evaluate the City's efforts related to the safety of bridge structures as compared to laws, regulations, policies, procedures, and industry practice.

Based on State inspection information, the City's large bridge structures are structurally sound and safe for vehicular traffic. However, limitations in the accuracy and completeness of information maintained by Public Works to manage large bridges were found.

Safety/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

22

Sep-16

Audit of the PARD Resource Allocation

Determine how resources are allocated for PARD programs and maintenance, and if this process results in equity from a City's district perspective

PARD may be unable to continue to provide services at the level expected by the community and decisions about curtailing services or expanding funding will need to be made to ensure the long-term sustainability of PARD. PARD's resource allocation process is ineffective and does not provide a basis for strategic department wide decision making.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

23

Sep-16

Audit of the Austin Police Department's Handling of Complaints

Determine if the complaint process is accessible, are processed consistently, appropriate corrective actions are taken, and Austin's complaint process is comparable with similar entities

There are barriers to filing complaints and APD's policies and practices make it difficult to ensure that complaints are handled consistently. The City's complaint process is not accessible and may discourage people from filing complaints about officers. There is not a complete record of investigations into potential policy violations, limited the ability to effectively monitor and report on complaint investigations. The Police Monitor's ability to provide effective oversight is limited.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

24

Sep-16

Audit of Management of User Access for the Human Resources Management System

Determine whether access rights to the Human Resources Management system are properly managed to safeguard City's information and prevent unauthorized changes.

The HRD's process for granting access to the Human Resources Management System follow best practices and City policies.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

25

Sep-16

Audit of Stormwater Infrastructure Management

Determine if the City's storm water infrastructure is sufficient to manage expected flows and is maintained to an established schedule, and determine how the City's infrastructure management practices compared to similar entities

Recommendations presented by the City's Flood Mitigation Task Force include recommendations that address all the risks identified in the audit such as maintenance, planning for future needs, coordinating with other departments and flood response tools.

Safety/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

26

Nov-16

Audit of Employee Health Claims and Eligibility

Review of cemetery revenue collection, accounting and vendor payments as compared to applicable laws.

Controls currently in place provide assurance that the risks relating to the processing of health claims and eligibility for health coverage are effectively managed and oversight is sufficient.

Effective use of resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

27

Nov-16

Audit of Neighborhood Planning

Determine whether the City's communication and governance structures are effective in supporting neighborhood planning efforts, and whether neighborhood planning efforts align with Imagine Austin

Planning efforts for neighborhood are inequitable an have lacked robust and representative participation. Neighborhood plan contact teams create barriers to public engagement and representative decision-making

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

28

Feb-17

Flood Buyout Program Audit

Evaluate whether the City is managing flood buyout projects efficiently and cost-effectively, and to review flood buyout policies for other government entities.

The City has adopted a model for flood buyout projects to provide consistent relocation benefits to displaced owners and has developed policies and procedures for implementing the adopted model. However, the model adopted may result in higher costs to the City.

Effective use of Resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

29

Feb-17

Development Agreements Monitoring

Determine if businesses and the City comply with contractual requirements of development agreements

The City's monitoring ensures that businesses comply with contractual requirements prior to releasing development incentives, although the documentation reviewed for some requirements is limited.

Efective use of resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

30

Feb-17

Historic Preservation Program

Determine whether the historic preservation program is achieving its objectives and how the process compares with other entities

The Planning and Zoning Department is not effectively administering the historic preservation program. The issues noted may prevent the City's historic preservation program from achieving its objectives of protecting and enhancing neighborhoods, buildings, and sites that reflect elements of Austin's culture, social, political, and architectural history.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

31

Mar-17

Audit of the City's Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation Investigation Practices

Review investigations of alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation filed between 2010 and 2015; to examine investigatory procedures and standards applied in these cases; to report on other investigatory practices in other cities; and provide recommendations to processes and protocols for anti-discrimination investigations.

The City has a basic structure to conduct investigations however, there are several areas where improvements could be implemented to provide a "best in class" investigatory process within the City.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

32

Mar-17

City Utility Street Cut Repairs

Determine whether street cut repairs were completed in an effective and timely manner to minimize safety impacts to the public and the current model is cost-effective

As of March 2016, there was a significant backlog of utility cut patches awaiting a permanent repair that could take several years for the Public Works Department to address. Public Works does not maintain complete and consistent data to determine the backlog's true size or whether their work is cost-effective in comparison to the work of their contractors.

Safety/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

33

Mar-17

Parks and Recreation Department Cash Handling

Determine if PARD accounted for all the money it received.

PARD has made efforts to comply with the City's cash handling policies. However, several issues resulted in an increased risk that PARD may be missing revenue.

Safeguarding of Assets/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

34

May-17

Fleet Preventive Maintenance for Light Duty Vehicles

Determine whether City vehicles are being serviced according to established maintenance schedules and how does the cost of service compare to industry practices.

Fleet Services performs timely preventive maintenance on City light duty, non-public safety vehicles. However, much of these preventive maintenance services exceed manufacturer recommendations. As a result, select preventive maintenance services performed by Fleet Services cost more than what private service providers charge for the same services.

Effective Use of Resources/Fleet service' costs are higher than what private providers charge

$0.00

35

Aug-17

Demolition Permits

Determine if the City's demolition permitting process was effective and efficient

The City's demolition permitting process is not designed to efficiently of effectively meet the needs of stakeholders or City departments. The Development Services Department Director should redesign the demolition permitting process.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

0

36

Sep-17

Capital Project Delivery Process

Determine whether the City is effective and efficient at coordinating and delivering capital projects that meet identified needs

Public Works does not consistently follow processes designed to contain costs and ensure the quality of capital projects. The City's process for assessing contractor performance on capital projects discourages constructive feedback and lacks nuance, which may affect the outcome of future procurement and thus the quality of future capital projects.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

37

Oct-17

Online Access to City Services

Determine if the City's online services are meeting the residents' basic needs

The City offers residents some online services, such as making payments or downloading information. However, barriers prevent many City departments from offering services such as online registrations and applications, and there is no citywide strategy for offering services online.

Service Effectiveness/If residents cannot easily locate, access, or complete basic services online, they may need to visit departments in person. This increases time and travel costs for residents and increases resource costs for the city.

$0.00

38

Nov-17

Fee Waivers

Determine whether the City administers the fee waiver process effectively and to identify the total amount of fees waived each year

The City does not have a system to aggregate fee waivers processed by City departments and City departments are not required to track the amount of fees they waive. Based on the data received, the City waived at least $16 million fees in FY2016. Of the 13 city departments who provide fee waivers: 9 were able to provide fee waiver data; 2 departments were able to provide partial fee waiver data; and 2 departments reported that they do not track fee waivers.

Effective Use of Resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

39

Nov-17

Homelessness Assistance Audit Series: City Policies Related to Homelessness

Determine if City ordinances align with City efforts to achieve desired outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

City ordinances that limit or ban camping, sitting or lying down in public spaces, and panhandling may create barriers for people as they attempt to exist homelessness because they can lead to a criminal record or arrest warrants. U.S. cities have faced lawsuits, challenging the enforcement of similar ordinances. In some of those cases, rulings against the cities have been based on conditions that also appear to exist in Austin. The City should reassess he City's ordinances to determine what legal risk they pose to the City and whether these ordinances are still aligned with the City Council's vision for addressing the issue of homelessness or whether the ordinances

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

40

Nov-17

Workforce Development Audit

Determine if City workforce development contracting efforts are effective at meeting outcomes and preparing employees for jobs that match the needs of the Austin job market

Nine contracts with five workforce development providers that totaled $6 million. The City lacks a comprehensive workforce development plan and contracts are not centrally managed. Additionally, performance measures relating to workforce development are not consistent or effective. The City does not have sufficient and reliable data to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of workforce development programs due to ineffective contract development and limited monitoring.

Effective Use of Resources/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

41

Dec-17

Austin Public Health Neighborhood Centers

Determine if Neighborhood Centers are effectively meeting the needs of low-and moderate-income residents

Residents are satisfied with services they received. Current neighborhood centers may not be within walking distance for over 95% of low-moderate-income residents. Also, funding constraints affect the ability of Neighborhood Centers to provide services to residents and residents may not be aware of services because of the lack of outreach.

Service effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

42

Dec-17

Homelessness Assistance Audit Series: City Policies Related to Homelessness

Determine if the City coordinates homelessness assistance efforts to achieve desired outcomes for people experiencing homelessness

The City does not have a position or agency to coordinate its homelessness assistance efforts, resulting in reduced effectiveness and efficiency and potential missed opportunities to aid people in experiencing homelessness.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

43

Jan-18

Matched Savings Account Program Audit

Determine whether the Matched Savings Account program is serving eligible residents and achieving program goals.

The Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD) did not provide adequate oversight of the Matched Savings Account Program and prioritized financial benefit to program participants over stewardship of City and federal funds. Consequently, program funds were used for questionable transactions and potentially ineligible participants. There were also problematic management of program funds for small businesses, which may have violated applicable federal guidelines.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

44

Mar-18

Austin Energy Cable Inventory Management

Determine if Austin Energy is efficiently and effectively managing the return of issued cable and scrap cable.

Austin Energy has established procedures to ensure the tracking and safeguarding of cable. However, Electric Service Delivery crews did not consistently follow the documented procedures for returning cable and did not follow established procedures for processing scrap copper cable.

Safeguarding of Assets/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

45

Mar-18

On-Call Utilization

Determine whether the City is managing on-call and call-back assignments effectively and efficiently.

City management has provided inconsistent oversight and lacks complete information to know whether the City's practices are appropriate or whether they expend more resources than necessary to achieve operational needs.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

46

May-18

Homelessness Assistance Audit Series: Allocation of City Resources

Determine if the allocation of City resources assists in the City's efforts to achieve desired outcomes for people experiencing homelessness

The City does not have a complete understanding of the size or needs of the homeless population, so it is unclear whether the city is effectively allocating resources for homelessness assistance. The City is not meeting the long-term needs of the homeless population and it is unclear if it is effectively meeting the short-term needs.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

0

47

Jun-18

Contract Audit: Visit Austin

To determine if the Visit Austin contract is administered and monitored by the City to ensure compliance with contract requirements and, to determine how the City of Austin's relationship and oversight structure with Visit Austin compares to that of peer cities

There were not significant compliance issues by Visit Austin; however, the Convention Center could enhance current practices for administering and monitoring the Visit Austin contract.

Contract Compliance/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

48

Jun-18

Effectiveness of Citizen Police Oversight

Determine whether the Austin Police Department implemented changes to policies and practices as recommended by the Citizen Review Panel

Citizen oversight did not create substantive change within the Austin Police Department, largely due to the effects of City procedures and police department practices.

Service Effectiveness/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

49

Aug-18

Traffic Enforcement

Whether City enforcement efforts are effectively creating a safe mobility environment and what impact does the level of enforcement have on other city programs and initiatives

The City is promoting safety on city streets through programs such as targeted enforcement of dangerous driving behaviors by the APD and having red light cameras at certain intersections. The focus on enforcement activities as a way to promote safety may result in less revenue for the City.

Public Safety/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

50

Sep-18

Cultural Art Contract Monitoring

To determine if cultural arts contracts are being administered and monitored effectively to ensure compliance with contract requirements.

The Cultural Art Division's contract monitoring practices are aligned with best practices. However, there are areas for improvement in documenting how contracts are selected for monitoring, verifying that the information reported by the contractor is accurate., using the contract template developed by the Law Department.

Contract Compliance/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

51

Sep-18

APD Response to Mental Health Related incidents

Determine if the Austin Police Department is effectively receiving and responding to incidents involving people from mental health or other specialized needs

The APD has organized their response to mental health related calls for service under a best practice model. There are opportunities for improvement in crisis intervention training, the dispatch of certified officer, and tracking and reviewing crisis intervention incidents to improve outcomes.

Service EffectivenessNo cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$0.00

52

Sep-18

Contract Audit: African American Youth Harvest Foundation

Determine whether the City developed and monitored the two current contracts with the African American Youth Harvest Foundation in the best interest of the City

The City's two contracts with the Youth Harvest Foundation were not developed or monitored to ensure payments were warranted and performance measures were met. Austin Public Health cannot verify that the Youth Harvest Foundation satisfied the intended purpose of one of the contracts.

Contract Compliance/No cost savings, no minimized use of inputs documented

$18,600.00





Amounts identified as savings and cost avoidance

$161,398