By Dwight Brock
Collier County Clerk of Courts
BCC Initiative is Encouraging Sign for County Taxpayers
At the recent Board of County Commissioners’ (BCC) meeting, the BCC reviewed the latest internal audit report presented by the clerk’s staff and discussed ways to strengthen internal controls in county government grant programs.
This may have been triggered, in part, by a growing list of internal audit reports citing a lack of internal controls and management oversight in grant programs, as well as in various county departments.
By a vote of 5-0, the BCC directed the county attorney and staff to draft a resolution to tighten selection criteria for grant sub-recipients. They stipulated that the language in the resolution provide the ability to exclude individuals or entities that have not performed in the past, or had not followed the legal requirements of a grant.
During the discussion, the BCC chair also asked our staff for additional recommendations designed to strengthen internal controls for grant programs.
By taking ownership for the problem and a willingness to take a more “hands on” approach to improve the business practices in county government, the BCC has demonstrated the leadership that is required to improve the overall performance of county government and, in the process, protect taxpayers.
From my perspective as auditor and “watchdog” of county funds, I believe this is an important step in the right direction and a welcomed change from the past. I commend the newly formed BCC, and encourage them to play a more active role in implementing changes to improve county government operations.
On April 19 I published an article in my newsletter, “The Watchdog Is Barking, But Who Is Listening?,’’ where I outlined my concerns related to this very issue. I listed recent internal audit reports which documented violations of grant requirements and cited numerous examples of a lack of financial controls and management oversight to protect public funds. I went as far as to say that there appeared to be a culture in Collier County government where sloppy business practices were being tolerated, if not perpetuated, from the top down. I challenged the BCC to look carefully at the way the county was being managed and for them to provide the leadership and oversight necessary to ensure that county government was being run both effectively and efficiently.
I applaud the BCC for recognizing the importance of playing a more active role in overseeing county business operations. By strengthening the policies and oversight procedures related to grant programs and funds, they have clearly demonstrated their commitment to better serve the citizens of Collier County, as well as protect them as taxpayers.
Going forward, it is equally important for the public to play an oversight role to ensure that when these new practices are adopted by the BCC, that they are implemented successfully by county staff.