External audits, performed by external oversight agencies such as the Auditor General (AG), are an ongoing occurrence in the department. Since July 1, 2013, the department has undergone 12 external audits/reviews, including: Florida Red Light Program (OPPAGA); Electronic Estimates Disbursement System (AG); Payroll and Personnel (AG); Federal Awards 12-13 (AG); Contract and Grant Review (DFS); Procurement and Expenditures (AG); IT Surplus Processes (AG); 2014 Operational Audit (AG); Federal Awards 13-14 (AG); Project Cost Management Subsystem (AG); Financial Management Oversight (FTA); and, State Administered Retirement Programs (AG). Additionally, other reviews have been conducted during this time period with lesser, but still significant, involvement. Currently there are four active external audits and reviews (included in the listing above), with four in the six-month follow-up phase.
The following is a “FAQ” about this significant activity that impacts all areas of the department.
What is an external audit?
An external audit is an audit or review conducted by an agency from outside the department.
Who performs an external audit?
External audits are performed by auditors or reviewers from outside the department including, but not limited to, the following:
- Auditor General (AG) – The Auditor General is a constitutional officer appointed by the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee (JLAC) and confirmed by the Legislature. The AG audits the Department’s federal awards and statewide financial statements at least once a year and in some years conducts multiple, simultaneous operational audits in information technology and various operational areas.
- Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) – OPPAGA also reports to the Legislature but researches and reports topics across state government operations, some of which, such as Red Light Camera programs, involve the department. Several years ago OPPAGA also reviewed state fleet operations, including the department in that report.
- Department of Financial Services (DFS – Division of Accounting and Auditing) – performs grant, contract, and other reviews on a periodic or as needed basis. Contract reviews are conducted on a multi-year cycle; the department was last reviewed in 2014. A payroll review was undertaken in 2012.
- US DOT
- Office of Inspector General (OIG) – primarily conducts investigations.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) – primarily reviews transportation programs funded with federal dollars.
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – conducts periodic reviews of transit safety and operational programs; conducts major reviews approximately every three years. The most recent review is concluding now.
- US Government Accountability Office (GAO) – GAO is the congressional research agency and reviews programs according to a work schedule, as well as upon request from members of Congress. GAO has involved department personnel and programs in reviews three times in recent years as part of overarching research.
- US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – The core mission of OMB is to serve the President of the United States in implementing his vision across the Executive Branch. OMB conducts research into various topics. OMB has conducted reviews involving the department in years past, but not in recent years.
What is the OIG’s role concerning external audits?
Florida Statutes, Section 20.055(2)(g), states, the Inspector General’s role is to “Ensure effective coordination and cooperation between the Auditor General, federal auditors, and other governmental bodies with a view toward avoiding duplication.”
The OIG will:
- Coordinate entrance and exit conferences, as well as any other ‘formal’ meetings;
- Coordinate all requests for access to department buildings, office space, and IT resources, requesting termination of such access at the conclusion of each engagement or review;
- Coordinate department responses including, but not limited to, Engagement Letters, Non-Public Record Contact Letters, Fraud Interviews, Notes Disclosures requests, Bond Compliance statements, Legal Contingencies responses, Management Representation Letters, and other documents and deliverables; and
- Coordinate distribution of and responses to Preliminary and Tentative Findings (P&T); the Summary Schedule of Prior Audit Findings (SSPAF); the Final Report; and 6-month follow-ups to JLAC or OPPAGA.
What happens after the issuance of a final report?
Section 20.055(5)(h), requires that “The inspector general shall monitor the implementation of the state agency’s response to any report on the state agency issued by the Auditor General or by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. No later than 6 months after the Auditor General or the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability publishes a report on the state agency, the inspector general shall provide a written response to the agency head or, for state agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor, the Chief Inspector General, on the status of corrective actions taken. The inspector general shall file a copy of such response with the Legislative Auditing Committee.”
The JLAC can call upon agencies to explain their responses to audit recommendations.
Who should I contact if I have questions?
The OIG has designated an external audit liaison to help facilitate external audits.
Charles McCool, External Audit Liaison
Phone: 850-410-5828 or Email: email@example.com
Kristofer Sullivan, Director of Audit
Phone: 850-410-5506 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by Charles McCool, External Audit Liaison