According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, an audit is "a formal or official examination and verification of an account book; a methodical examination and review." For the City Auditor's Office, auditing is a value-added service that we provide to the City Council and the citizens of Colorado Springs. Most of these services center on examining, verifying, or reviewing information.
One of the primary services that we provide is an audit of major systems. For the major systems in each of the entities that we audit, we will review the internal controls and verify their execution once every few years. The major financial systems are Accounts Receivable/Billing, Accounts Payable, Payroll, and Purchasing. During these audits, we will also evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. We will also recommend enhancements to the system when appropriate.
Another service that we provide includes audits of contract compliance. Colorado Springs Utilities has many complex contracts for fuels and services that involve million of dollars annually. Other entities such as Colorado Springs Airport and the City have similar contracts that are also audited.
Annually, the City Auditor prepares an audit plan, which will include projects required by City Code (such as TOPS review and insurance audits), utility rate filings reviews, and special projects or audits of areas that the Audit Committee has identified for review based on a risk assessment. Management is also given the opportunity to identify areas where they would like to use the City Auditor's Office. Each year, we also provide audit assistance to the external auditors for the City and Colorado Springs Utilities financial audits.
While all Audit employees are expected to be computer literate, the office employs three auditors who specialize in technology and information systems issues. These auditors coordinate special projects such as e-Commerce reviews, network security reviews, disaster recovery process reviews, and other technology related projects. We try to maximize our effectiveness and efficiency by using special computer based auditing tools. Audit Command Language (ACL) is such a tool that allows the City Auditor's Office to retrieve information from various databases in different formats and manipulate the data in a common format. This software allows us to validate the information contained in the various databases.
In summary, auditing is adding value to the operations and systems of the City. It is a cooperative effort of the City Auditor's Office along with members of management to make all the entities of Colorado Springs the best possible provider of services to citizens.