Mobile, Ala., saves money by taking back audits
Although in recent years the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awarded Mobile, Ala.’s accounting department a Certificate of Excellence in financial reporting for its annual audit, a local accounting firm actually was performing the work. At the end of the vendor’s contract, though, City Comptroller Patricia Aldrich already had decided that her department wanted to take the job in-house. “We wanted better control of our audits, and by doing them internally, we could do them faster,” Aldrich says.
After seeing a presentation on preparing an internal audit from Ventura County, Calif., at a Government Finance Officers Association conference, Aldrich began investigating software programs. The other impetus for the change was the need to incorporate best practices for audits into her organization, rather than rely on a vendor.
After learning that the California county used a product from Toronto-based CaseWare International, Mobile purchased its Working Papers and GAAP Financials products, which included a trainer to help guide the implementation. As it turns out, the city’s previous two auditors also used the same software.
Aldrich credits much of the success of the software’s implementation to Rebecca Christian, an accountant with the city. “She owned the project and worked hard to ensure its incorporation into the department’s operation.”
Aldrich expects to recoup the $28,000 investment in the software in two years based on the fees charged for the previous external audits. More importantly, she and her staff have the confidence that the department has the ability and confidence to produce information that gives them insight during the city’s budgeting process.
As a confirmation of the success of the project, GFOA awarded Mobile a Certificate of Excellence in financial reporting for its 2009 and 2010 annual audits.