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New protocols and improved collaboration lead to ‘clean audit’ for King County

King County - Contributed art
King County
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The following is a release from the King County executive's office:

New audit protocols and improved collaboration with the State Auditor's Office earned King County a "clean audit," with zero findings in an audit of the County's 2013 annual financial statements. Thanks to new collaborative efforts by staff teams from the state auditor and King County, this year's audit was also published ahead of schedule for the first time in six years.

"Through innovation, diligence and hard work, we aspire to become the best-run government in the nation, and I’m proud of the tremendous effort that has earned us this result," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "We value the work of the state auditor, and these kinds of financial reviews help us continually improve our practices."

"We appreciated the assistance and cooperation provided by King County management and staff during our audit," said State Auditor Troy Kelley. "This audit process was an example of how our Office helps governments work better, cost less and deliver higher value, so they can earn greater public trust. For us, the bottom line is better government."

Executive Constantine praised the work of State Auditor Kelley and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett to apply the tools of Lean management to audit processes, stress the importance of timely audits, improve communications, and ensure that new protocols developed in 2012 were put into action. Those new protocols included efforts by King County to monitor and strengthen its internal controls.

Each year, the state auditor examines King County's financial statements for accuracy, completeness, and internal controls, then reports on any weaknesses or deficiencies in the form of findings. Audits for fiscal years 2008 through 2011 were published weeks and sometimes months behind schedule, with an average of two findings per year. Over the last two audit cycles, however, the county has worked to reduce the number of findings and to complete the financial audit on time, no later than June 30. The audit of 2012 was completed by the deadline with two findings. This year's audit, covering fiscal year 2013, has been completed several days ahead of schedule with zero findings, the first time that has happened since the 2007 audit.

The timely and accurate reporting of the annual financial statements is important for demonstrating King County's sound financial practices and long term financial strength. The financial statements also support the county's superior bond ratings, which allow King County to borrow money at the lowest possible cost.

King County and state auditor teams will continue to use the tools and principles of Lean to examine audit processes and create ways to shorten cycle time while still providing a thorough, high-quality audit product. Lean involves making continuous improvements in work processes and delivering more value to public customers and stakeholders.

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