AUDITOR

OFFICES UNDER THE PRESIDENT

312.603.1500

Purpose

The Office of County Auditor (OCA) provides independent and objective assurance and consulting services designed to add value and improve the County’s operations while promoting transparency and accountability in government. The OCA assists the County in accomplishing its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of Countywide risk management, control, and governance processes.

Mandates

The OCA operates in accordance with the County Ordinance,Chapter 2, Article IV, Division 6, Auditor, Sec. 2-311, which grants the OCAthe authority to conduct audits Countywide.

Key Activities and Services

  • Conducts Financial, Performance, Compliance,Operational, IT audits of all Cook County departments, offices, boards,activities, agencies and programs and in any government entity that is funded in whole or in part by the County pursuant to the County's annual appropriation bill
  • Performs annual Implemented Recommendations Follow-up Audit Process
  • Conducts Annual Countywide Risk Assessments
  • Prepares Annual Fiscal Year Audit Plan for submittal to Audit Committee
  • Assists with Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Audit

Discussion of 2017 Department and Program Outcomes 

In accordance with the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Standards and Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), the OCA implements an annual Countywide Risk Assessment Program. The Countywide Risk Assessment Program includes Offices under the President, Elected Offices and the Forest Preserve District for a total of 44 high level entities measured.The Countywide Risk Assessment Program is used in the preparation of the annual audit plan that is submitted in accordance with the County Auditor Ordinance to the County Board for referral to the Audit Committee. The annual audit plan consists of higher risk areas identified for audit and is prepared to provide a core guide for audits to be initiated during the fiscal year. Depending on work load and the other factors mentioned in the audit plan, some of the audits may not be initiated during the year, and other audits may be conducted that are not in the plan.

The OCA strives to be responsive to management requests and provide extensive audit coverage. Countywide audits are conducted to expand coverage and identify opportunities for best practices. During FY 2017, the OCA will have conducted 35 audits that provided audit coverage to the Offices under the President, Elected Offices and the Forest Preserve District. The goal is to deliver broad coverage throughout the County by ensuring the audit function is immersed in the County operations. The OCA strives to ensure accountability and transparency in County government through the issuance of final audit reports with recommendations that add value to County operations by assessing risks, suggesting improvements, verifying accuracy of records, raising red flags, and recommending stronger controls that will assist County management in meeting their goals and objectives and operating their offices in the most efficient and effective manner. In FY 2017, the OCA has a target to issue 20 audit reports. As of June 30, 2017, the OCA has issued 11 audit reports and is on track to meet the target of 20 audit reports. The OCA audit report target is established based on our review of benchmarks achieved by other counties and the OCA 3 year history.The other counties’ benchmarks showed between 19-23 staff and between 4-26 audit reports issued in a fiscal year.

The OCA has a comprehensive recommendations process, which includes follow up on open recommendations to verify that controls a reestablished; follow up on implemented recommendations to verify controls are working; and assistance to management with the implementation of audit recommendations. Since FY 2013, the audit reports have provided 140 recommendations from which 123 have been implemented and 17 are currently in various stages of implementation. In FY 2017 as of June 30th, there were 18 recommendations implemented and 17 new recommendations. In FY 2017, the OCA implemented a Recommendations Follow up Audit Process, which reviewed implemented recommendations to verify that the established control is in place and properly working. Through the Recommendations Follow up Audit Process, 9 audits and 35 recommendations were followed up on to determine if controls are working as intended. The process will be concluded at the end of FY 2017 with a final report issued to the Board of Commissioners for referral to Audit Committee.

The OCA leads the Cook County Risk Advisory Committee, with representatives from the County departments to focus on Countywide risks,controls and potential fraud matters.

The OCA provides assistance with the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) Audit to help ensure that the CAFR is issued six months after the end of the fiscal year.

Budget, Cost Analysis and 2018 Strategic Initiatives and Goals

The OCA serves over 5 million Cook County residents through ensuring the Cook County departments, offices, or agencies are acquiring,managing, protecting, and using resources, including public funds, personnel,property, equipment, and space, economically, efficiently, and effectively and in a manner consistent with the objectives intended by the authorizing entity or enabling legislation.

The OCA utilizes in-house resources and tools to conduct business in the most cost effective manner. The OCA utilizes the County’s SharePoint solution as a Case Management tool to automate the audit process,improve efficiency and timeliness, promote transparency and accountability and promote effective information sharing.

The OCA complies with the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) requirement for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in a cost effective manner by maintaining a low budget for required training and utilizing free CPE training as available. The OCA has been obtaining approximately 40% of the required CPE through free training courses. The OCA’s budget for CPE training is significantly below the benchmark obtained through the IIA. The IIA benchmark shows training dollars for government audit departments between 11-15 staff ranging from $7,000 to $40,000 compared to the OCA’s budget of $4,000. Meeting CPE requirements ensures auditors are relevant on current audit techniques and can provide the best service to County departments.

In FY 2017, the OCA started a collaborative approach with management to provide assistance with the implementation of audit recommendations. The collaborative approach improves the implementation of recommendations through providing a resource in the implementation of control improvements.

In FY 2018, the OCA has a strategic initiative to streamline the audit approach so that audit results can be provided in the most effective and efficient manner to provide timely and valuable feedback to management.