Tavares, FL - July 8, 2013
Note: The audit, IT Records Management, described here was requested by the Lake County Board, so kudos for them authorizing the audit, but I wonder whether the County management has a clue about how to manage functions effectively. The audit is attached at the end of this posting. Updates to this page will be posted after the July 9th Lake County Board meeting.
A new 10-page audit report from the Lake County Court Clerk's Audit Department found that a one person "Records Management" department within the Lake County IT Department responsible for tracking and storing older County records (not for the Court Clerk, but for the County) had significant problems. This audit report is in the consent agenda for the Tuesday, July 9th, 9am Lake County Board meeting in Tavares in the round County Administration building. Taxpayers concerned about fiscal fiascos and management oversight should attend the meeting or watch it on video via the County agenda page HERE.
The audit found:
- The Records Management Liasion Officer (RMLO) failed to destroy 54% of all stored boxes of records when scheduled for destruction, resulting in the use of twice the warehouse storage space needed, and
- didn't use dedicated software that cost the County $45,500 over 7 years,
- made many errors in record keeping of stored boxes,
- The auditor also recommended the function be merged, with funding provisions, into the better managed, more efficient and better automated Court Clerk's office, but the County management rejected that recommendation claiming there were no "resources" to do so, and
- the function had our of date job written policies or procedures, and
- and thus had no apparent management oversight to detect all these problems or implement sound management policies and procedures to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
1. Risk of Mismanagement of Record Storage: The audit did not really address the risk of mismanaged records management when they can't be found, or are kept too long. Many organizations enforce records destruction deadlines to ensure older records are not used in lawsuits against them. Other firms ensure accuracy of tracking records to reduce liability from lost documents, such as contracts or legal documents. It doesn't appear Lake County is monitoring this risk issue and the County manager should provide the Board with an analysis of how important the records are in storage. Are they there for just government time requirements, or there due to significant legal risks if lost or retained too long.
2. Cost of Document Storage costs not analyzed - The audit does not disclose the cost of records storage, which is in a warehouse. If over 54% of records should have been destroyed, what is the cost per box of records for storage, and is the warehouse too big? What is the total cost of the records maangement function, including storage, fully loaded wages, etc.
3. Why pay $45,500 for Unused Software? There is no answer why the County paid $16,000 for dedicated Records Management software in 2006 and $3000 annual maintenance fees for a 7 year total of $45,500 without ever using it. If that happens for one software module, how many others are not being used, and are incurring wasted maintenance fees.
4. Lack of Management Oversight: This audit indicates a continuance of a trend where small functions in the County (like Animal Services) get no management supervision or oversight, thus continue along an inefficient path until an audit is requested by the Board. I don't blame the incumbent staff for poor supervision practices. It seems even a freshman manager would know to periodically review operations they supervise for efficiency (using the software), effectiveness (no errors) and economy (merging the function into a more efficient department). What is missing from the mix of skills of County Managers when this pattern repeats?
5. A Cost Analysis Comparing Merger of Record Keeping with the Court Clerk vs Rejecting that Recommendation is Needed. The audit didn't really have a point by point analysis of costs and other factors for comparison, and one is needed for Board review. If the County management is not going to manage & oversee functions like this, they should be transferred or consolidated with ones that are.
Again, kudos to the Lake County Board continuing to initiate audits like these. As an experienced government and corporate internal audit manager with 18 years experience, I have found there ARE some managers in both realms (including some at Lake County) who DO manage well, and I knew who they were and could easily reduce frequency of audits of their functions. But, others required double the audits since they did not manage well, and they needed to learn improved management techniques.
Hopefully, the day will come when ALL lake County managers develop measurable performance metrics, develop updated policies and procedures and provide oversight of ALL operations under their supervision and then these audits will not be needed or will only have minor recommendations. If I was a Board member, I wouldn't approve their Departmental budgets until evidence of proper management systems was in place for every program and function.
The audit is Lake County #BCC-110 (which can be found here after the Tuesday, July 9th board meeting) and is also attached below. FiscalRangers.com obtained this directly from the Lake County Court Clerk's Internal Audit Dept. after noting that this and another audit were in the consent agenda for the July 9th Board meeting. We understand the Board Chair, Leslie Campione, will "pull" both audit reports for Board discussion. We are publishing a separate post on the other internal audit report.
Updates will be posted on this document after the July 9th Board discussion takes place.