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[July 11, 2014]
Auditor's office being revamped with interim leader Steve Martin [Athens Banner-Herald, Ga. :: ]
(Athens Banner-Herald (GA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 11--Athens-Clarke County's interim auditor Steve Martin is a week into rebuilding the office responsible for evaluating each of the county's departments, and he met with the Audit Committee for the first time this week to gather input and ideas from a small group of commissioners.
The committee, led by Chairman Andy Herod, Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Hoard, and commissioners Kelly Girtz, Doug Lowry and Jared Bailey, met with Martin on Thursday to outline his duties and responsibilities and to develop a timeline for deciding Martin's first assignment.
While some county officials previously said an audit of the Leisure Services Department should be the first of Martin's projects, it may be delayed for the very reasons many seem to believe it needs to be evaluated. It's much too large and complex of a department for a new auditor to examine on his own, the committee agreed.
Two full-time staff positions were authorized in the fiscal year 2015 operating budget, but the positions won't be advertised for another week, according to a plan penned by Martin describing his work for the first quarter. Those positions will likely include an administrative assistant who, in addition to typical secretarial duties, Martin suggested, would be tapped to assist with audits where extra help is needed.
A second management analyst would also be needed, and would be considered a de facto "deputy auditor," Martin said.
Although the committee seemed to agree that the former county auditor did a fine job, the breadth of his reports was often too broad, Lowry pointed out.
The group came up with a few suggestions to take to the mayor and Commission that would narrow the scope of Martin's work to focus on specific roles or services of each department and how those areas can be improved, rather than how the department is performing as a whole.
Girtz said he's heard complaints that the process for obtaining permits for construction and infrastructure projects is difficult to navigate, especially for individuals who may not be familiar with the undertaking.
"Sometimes I'll hear that the counter services were confusing, or that the website doesn't contain all the information needed for even simple projects like pouring a driveway," he said.
An audit of the structure and resources afforded to the county's myriad boards and authorities is also a top priority for the committee.
The committee also seemed interested in changing the name of the office to reflect the nature of Martin's work.
"If you search for an 'auditor' online, you're going to find a bunch of CPAs," Lowry pointed out.
Bailey agreed, and said calling Martin an auditor can be misleading for some. Other committee members agreed that a job title along the lines of "operations analyst" may be more appropriate, and would curb any misconception that an audit is an immediate negative reflection of a department's work.
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