City controller's audit plan for FY 2007

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Controller Annise Parker has posted the Fiscal Year 2007 audit plans on the city’s website. Notably missing from the list are any operations of the Housing and Community Development Department, which have proved to be so embarassing in the past, despite the evidence that little has changed. (Item #40)

Just as an aside, you know things are bad when the Federal Government thinks you’re wasting its money and starts cutting back on the money flow.

The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department has decided to delay issuance of the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Neighborhood Facilities Renovation. The reason for this delay is that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has reduced the City’s Community Development Block Grant allocation by $3,630,000 for Fiscal Year 2006 (July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007). The Department does plan to issue the RFP in December 2006 for funding in Fiscal Year 2007 (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008).

One would think that maybe the $750,000 in city funds that went to propping up Metro’s ridership figures buying bus passes for city employees would be audited, or LARA would be checked over, or maybe even someone would follow up to see if HOH has reimbursed HUD — but then again, the city would rather spend $200k and try to get out of it entirely (see item #48), so why bother?

What’s Ms. Parker auditing in FY 2007? A whole lot of “safe” things:

  • Some Aviation Dept construction contracts
  • HFD’s fleet maintenance
  • City-wide Purchase Card activity (Well, that was fun over at TSU–who knows what we’ll find here?)
  • PW&E’s Landscaping and Beautification projects
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Did you change the oil?

Exciting stuff, eh? Certainly nothing that’s going to cause problems for the mayor or the folks lined up at the trough labeled “Houston Development.” Well, there are three items on the list which might prove interesting:

  • Taser Acquisition, Distribution, & Use. I’m not holding my breath on that one, as most of the criticisms of the idea have to do with law enforcement issues, not cost effectiveness.
  • Long-Term Contract Relationships: An examination of whether the city is really saving money by skimping on hiring employees and contracting out jobs instead. Of course, I would be interested in that. 🙂
  • Parking, Car Rentals, and Hotel Concession: Checking up behind the entertainment industry in this city to make sure they’ve remitted the taxes like they should have. Hmmmmm… see item #19.

There’s more; you may want to check it out, but my read of this is that in an election year (most of these will be completed in the first half of 2007), Controller Parker isn’t going to risk causing any problems for Mayor White’s last re-election bid.

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Ubu Roi is a local civil servant who sometimes writes about what he sees.