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Kudos to the Fairfax County School Board

According to a press release today, the Fairfax County School Board has chosen to "strengthen" the district's audit functions. Here are the contents:

"The Fairfax County School Board has created an auditor general position, added a fourth member to the Audit Committee, and approved the FY 2015 audit plan.  The action was taken at the Board’s business meeting on October 9.

“The School Board’s actions demonstrate our commitment to greater transparency, program efficiency, and accountability to our community,” said Tammy Derenak Kaufax, School Board Chair.

"The Board voted unanimously to add a fourth School Board member to the membership of the Audit Committee.  The committee oversees the office of internal audit and conducts an annual evaluation of the School Board auditor.  It also reviews the annual audit plan and audit budget and submits a recommendation to the full School Board.

"The Board also decided to add a new auditor general position in the Internal Audit Office. This position will report to the School Board through the School Board Audit Committee and will be responsible for implementing a risk-based audit plan. The auditor general will direct audits of Fairfax County Public Schools’ offices, departments, schools, and programs, and will receive general direction from the Board based on the audit plan.

"The Board approved the FY 2015 internal audit work plan, which provides guidelines for contract management audits; business process-turnover audits; and time and attendance accounting management, systems, and practices audits.  It also provides guidelines for auditing staff professional development and other administrative activities."

Details about the Fairfax County School Board's auditor general can be found in the documents for agenda items 4.01. 4.02, and 4.03 on the October 9 regular school board meeting's agenda. Following is a list of several "typical tasks" to be performed:

  • Directs formal division-wide risk assessments to focus audit resources on high risk areas;
  • Supervises the appraisal of division activities in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance with applicable laws, regulations, procedures, and good management practices;
  • Prepares an annual audit work plan that identifies and prioritizes areas to be examined;
  • Prepares assessments of the financial position of funds;
  • Investigates and checks for legal compliance of expenditures and proper handling of funds;

So once again, the elected officials in Fairfax County have surpassed their elected colleagues in Arlington County. And even here in Arlington County, there remains a wide divide between the County Board and School Board. We growled on April 5, 2014 after the Arlington School Board hired an internal auditor, We also growled on August 4, 2014 when it was reported that Arlington County hired an internal auditor although "word on the street" is that he or she (the county would not even specific the person's gender) has had second thoughts on being employed by Arlington County.

Heck, Arlington County taxpayers won't even know until January 2015 on whether there will even be an independent and dynamic watchdog. That is when the Board is scheduled to receive from the Manager "an assessment of whether the audit function should be independent and to whom it should report," according to Note 33 that accompanied the FY 2015 Adopted Budget.

So kudos to the Fairfax County School Board for strengthening the school district's internal audit function.

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