Erie County: No Deputy Comptroller for Audit since September 9
by Alan Bedenko (@BuffaloPundit) - posted 7:30 am, October 30, 2013
Former Deputy Comptroller for Audit Teresa Fraas resigned on September 8th, after just about 8 months on the job. The Comptroller retained her services based on her qualifications as a CPA and internal auditor, having worked most of her career in the health care industry. She left shortly after a manufactured fiasco she was part of with respect to an audit of DSS record disposal. No one has been hired to replace her.
From an article about the Mychajliw comptrollership, dated January 22, 2013:
By many accounts, outgoing Comptroller David Shenk left the place a mess.
A Certified Public Accountant has not been in charge as Deputy Comptroller for Audit since 2006. Nobody could find an annual Audit Plan that mapped out the year for auditors and set specific benchmarks on when work needed to be done. The office’s audit manual was from the Ice Age, annual reviews and evaluations were not done for workers and the number of staff was gutted over the years.
“Our current staff did their best under tough circumstances,” Mychajliw said. “Keep in mind, there was no Erie County Comptroller for two months last year and no Deputy Comptroller for Audit for four months. I’m sure that had a very negative impact.”
Without an organized Annual Audit Plan or benchmarks for performance, Comptroller staff told Mychajliw they were marched into the office, handed an assignment to audit, and that was it. To improve that process, the new Comptroller hired a private sector CPA, Terry Fraas – the first CPA to lead the Audit Division since 2006.
Shenk is now serving a tour of duty in the Middle East. The deputy comptroller for audit under Mark Poloncarz (and part of the time under David Shenk) was Michael Szukala. Although not a CPA, Szukala is an award-winning Certified Internal Auditor with over 20 years of experience with municipal auditing. Szukala holds an MBA from UB and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from the University of Dayton. He was the City of Buffalo’s supervising auditor from 1988 – 2006.
Mychajliw blames the “mess” he found in the Comptroller’s office on the absence of a deputy comptroller for audit. Erie County has now been without a person in that position for almost 2 months. One would think that this would be setting us up for another “mess” or “tough circumstances” or “negative impact”, according to Mychajliw’s own words.
Mychajliw has been in office since January and produced only a single arguably legitimate audit – oh, he calls things “audits”, but that doesn’t magically make them so. The big reveal? 30 former employees were still named as authorized users of an internal county fuel system. They didn’t hold “Gasbuddy” cards, nor had anyone obtained fuel who shouldn’t have – their names were just on the list. These names were purged. Total savings to the taxpayer: arglebargle.
– Whatever happened to the Medicaid audit, press-released in January? Why did the comptroller’s office refer to a simple review of internal procedures as an “audit“? When will the “audit” of the county’s welfare programs be complete? How are these alleged audits affected by the departure of the deputy comptroller for audit? What will today’s media alert be about?
UPDATE: Hey, remember the audits of the Erie County Water Authority?
In September 2012, while running for Comptroller, Mychajliw made a point of criticizing ECWA hiring practices. Then-comptroller David Shenk had just warned ECWA of an upcoming audit, but Mychajliw pounced:
“It’s too little too late,” Mychajliw said of Shenk’s proposed audit. “This should have been done months ago. Had this been done months ago, the friends and family plan wouldn’t be back in county government. And from my perspective, if I anger politicians and party bosses, good. That means I’m doing my job protecting taxpayers.”
New Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said although he’s happy Shenk completed his audit before he left office, Mychajliw says that won’t stop him from doing his own audit of the Water Authority.
Scott Brown: “Are you willing to look at salaries over there and the number of employees they have?”
Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw: “Absolutely Scott, the same way that 2 On Your Side did, I plan on using our audit team to do exactly that. I think it’s really important to see how those salaries compare to other water authorities across the state and also to the private sector. We plan on going a lot deeper.”
Mychajliw says he plans on starting his audit of the Water Authority within the next six months. He says he’s also going to take a look at hiring practices at the Board of Elections and the Erie County Clerk’s office.
“Within the next six months” is June 2013. Has it begun? If it takes three months to complete, shouldn’t it have been completed by September 2013? Where’s Mychajliw’s ECWA audit?! Connected people were still being hired for plum jobs well into 2013.
Maybe it has to do with not rocking the boat for Langworthy relative Amy Garcia?