2021 Audit Plan Supports Denver’s COVID-19 Relief and Equity Work

Published on October 14, 2020

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DENVER – COVID-19 relief and racial justice are the two most important issues in Denver in the year ahead — and they will also be key topics for several audits in the new 2021 Audit Plan as Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, supports the city’s work by assessing safeguards and working to ensure essential services are delivered equitably and without misusing taxpayers’ dollars.

“I hear the concerns of my constituents,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Every person’s life changed this year, and so did how the city of Denver does business. The city’s independent audit function is more important than ever as we work to ensure the city’s limited resources are used to the benefit of everyone.”

The Denver Auditor is required by Denver Charter to publish an Audit Plan for the year ahead by the third Thursday in October every year. The Audit Plan is a flexible document that allows for change due to unforeseen circumstances, as we saw with the pandemic in 2020.

“In the year ahead, we will assess some of the city’s highest risks and newest programs — including efforts to fight systemic racism and how the city is spending millions of dollars in new funding related to the coronavirus pandemic,” Auditor O’Brien said. “In my 2021 Audit Plan, I lay out my roadmap to serving the people of Denver by ensuring accountability, equity, and transparency.”

The independent audit function serves as a tool for good government, transparency, and accountability in the city.

Some key audits in the 2021 plan include:

  • Denver Police Department operations.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • COVID-19 relief funding.
  • Small business loans and grants.
  • Remote work.
  • City shelters.
  • Medical support for people experiencing homelessness.
  • The Medical Examiner’s Office.
  • Park management.
  • Transparency (public notice).

The city faces a tighter budget than we’ve experienced in years, while at the same time managing large and unexpected sources of funding thanks to federal COVID-19 relief. Now, more than ever, the city needs its Auditor to help support efficiency in managing resources and to protect against the misuse of public funds.

Agencies are facing increased pressure to spend large amounts of emergency funding, cut local budgets where possible, move resources into programs where need is highest, and achieve all essential functions of local government — all while many individuals are adjusting to working and supporting their families from home. The city is having to change how it does business on many levels: from where we work, to how we budget, to how we ensure we support our community equitably.

“In a time of great change, proper organization, safeguards, and accountability are indispensable,” Auditor O’Brien said. “We will be able to help the city in 2021 by reviewing the hard work of city agencies to confirm they are continuing to effectively support their missions and goals.”

At a time when racial justice in policing remains of local and national concern, our audit of the Denver Police Department may include a review of officers’ compliance with department requirements and a review of the Support Team Assisted Response Program — which helps reroute some 911 calls to emergency mental health support programs.

Meanwhile, our COVID-19 relief audit will look at the financial framework for CARES Act funding, FEMA funding, and any other public funds associated with relief programs.

“Today, we are all facing the stress of significant change and uncertainty,” Auditor O’Brien said. “As I share my 2021 Audit Plan, I hope to bring some reassurance to the people of Denver that my team will continue to keep a close eye on their behalf.”

As a certified public accountant, Auditor O’Brien is bound by a code of ethics and professional standards. In determining the Audit Plan, Auditor O’Brien brings the obligations of his professional license, as well as the voters’ trust.

Although the ultimate decision to do any audit is at the sole discretion of the Auditor, the Audit Plan was completed with input from city leaders including Mayor Michael Hancock and City Council members, as well as information from previous audits, input from community members, and feedback from agency management.

“I want to share my sincere thanks to the people of Denver, Mayor Hancock, and the members of City Council who all weighed in on the topics most important to them for the 2021 Audit Plan,” Auditor O’Brien said.

Click through our complete list for 2021 and read more about how we do our work and how we select audits on our website.

Read the Audit Plan

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