By Don MacGillivray

 

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Multnomah County budgets and how well the resources are used, you may want to try out a new reporting tool created this year by the Auditor’s Office.

It is an interactive device that will give an overview of the county budget and county departments and the ability to explore the data more deeply.

This device created through “Tableau Public”, is a data and storytelling application that provides interactive charts, maps, live dashboards and applications.

The counties dashboard covers the audit reports issued between fiscal year 2009 to 2013. Much of the information is in graph form so that it is easy to read and understand.

By clicking on a pull-down menu on the right of the screen the information is further divided into offices, departments and recent audits. It gives information about actions taken to implement audit recommendations.

With this information, the reader can follow additional instructions to obtain more detailed information about the audit and the department concerned.

This new tool allows the public and county employees to see how well departments are using  auditors’ appraisals  to improve their services. A number of the county departments such as Community Justice, the District Attorney, and Human Services have implemented all the suggestions in their audits.

It also points out those departments that are not following suggested improvements. The tool lets the user break down the data by department, audit title, year and status, and it contains the information from all the audits completed in the last five years.

The compliance rate in this period of time is just over 85 percent. Most of those not implemented are in process or they are no longer valid suggestions. Coupled with this audit reporting tool is a survey to track the opinions of county workers about the effectiveness of audits in improving operations. Generally the opinions are good, but there is always room for improvement.

It is the Auditor’s function to hold the county accountable regarding the use and application of county funds. The Auditor’s Office conducts performance audits and special studies to improve Multnomah County programs, services, and operations and assure public accountability.

It is also their function to ensure the county government is efficient, effective, equitable, transparent, and fully accountable to its citizens. Through the audit reports corrective actions are suggested to improve departmental operations.

A follow-up program helps the departments implement recommendations. The Auditor’s office is staffed by eight auditing professionals with extensive knowledge of public management and business practices. The office has a high level of independence, objectivity, sound judgment, independent review, and peer reviews.

The elected County Auditor is  Steve March, who answers to the citizens of Multnomah County and determines the activities that are audited.

All the Auditor’s reports are available on the Multnomah County website or by contacting the Auditor’s Office at 503.988.3320. To go directly to this page and the online report: see www.web.multco.us/auditor/audit-survey-results

This is an opportunity to see how the county works and to gain insights into activities that were not available previously. It is user-friendly and understandable by the lay public.

It give the user a greater ability to ask the right question to a commissioner or department member.  After all it is the public’s money that provides the ability to get things done.