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Internal auditor position on Mission’s ballot

Mission constituents will vote on 24 propositions in the May charter election. The 24 propositions were recommended by the Charter Review Committee — a group of residents that city council assembled to examine Mission’s charter and amend it fully for the first time in 37 years.

Among the propositions is an amendment establishing the internal auditor position in the city charter — Proposition K.

On the ballot, Proposition K reads: “Shall Section 3.15 of the city charter be added to establish the position of internal auditor?” Constituents will either vote “for” to add the position to the city charter or “against.”

However, the City of Mission has had an internal auditor since late August 2023 — Jose Silva. The position was non-existent at Mission before then. The city manager hired Silva directly, but the proposed charter amendment would change the structure of the internal auditor position.

If voters pass Proposition K, Section 3.15 of the city charter makes it so the city council appoints the internal auditor themselves. Additionally, the internal auditor would work with an internal audit committee and report to Mission City Council instead of the city manager.

“It memorializes more clearly that the internal auditor must report to city council. Right now, that’s not clear, but a charter amendment would make that specifically clear,” City Attorney Victor Flores said.

City management recently came under fire after the public learned the city incorrectly withheld millions in sales tax payments from the Mission Economic Development Corporation. Although the city rectified the situation, it remains unclear exactly how the error occurred.

In January, Progress Times reported Assistant City Manager Andy Garcia said “the city bit off more than it could chew financially,” and Mission would likely implement financial policies to ensure it does not happen again. He called it “a learning experience for the city.”

Although the internal auditor joined the staff last year, City Manager Randy Perez explained they are still setting up the administrative details to make it a fully functional, official part of the City of Mission. Passing Proposition K is part of the process.

“The internal audit function…was created because we believe it is a cornerstone of good public sector governance and stewardship by providing accountability and transparency to our constituents,” Perez said in a written response. “Consequently, we needed to create legislation in our city charter.”

Perez explained that managers, directors and executive management oversaw and monitored their operational and compliance areas before Silva joined the staff; they still do. But now, the dedicated auditor will guide the auditing process. Their goal is to identify potential risks and create an annual audit plan to address the identified risks.

“In reality, the amendment will not change the audit process. The amendment will only serve to define and achieve organizational independence — that is, prevent conditions that may threaten the ability of the internal audit activity to carry out its responsibilities in an unbiased manner,” Perez said. “The intention is to implement [the internal audit] as a tool to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, internal control and governance processes for the City of Mission, while protecting the auditor’s impartiality and objectivity.”

If constituents pass Proposition K, it would also open the path to creating an audit committee. The committee’s purpose would be to oversee the internal audit activity and review the effectiveness of the internal audit function. Currently, the city council, city management and various advisory committees do the work of the proposed audit committee.

According to Perez, the committee’s duties would be:

  • Approving an internal audit activity charter consistent with the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF).
  • Ensuring sufficient and competent personnel to carry out the internal audit activity.
  • Approving the risk-based internal audit activity’s annual audit plan.
  • Reviewing the status of completion of the annual audit plan.
  • Receiving the results of all completed internal audit engagements.
  • Reviewing all priority findings of management action plans to address the related recommendations.

The city attorney further explained the committee’s role.

“These audits often take a lot of time. A good audit will often take months of an internal auditor’s team thoroughly looking at emails and correspondence, contracts, and they’ll go and actually do witness interviews of certain employees,” Flores said. “They gather that information so as they’re developing and as they’re investigating, the internal audit committee is like the forum for there to be some kind of reporting and updating. And as it gets completed, then the internal audit committee reviews the final draft, and then it gets reported to city council and city manager.”

The addition of an internal auditor is one of nearly 40 proposed amendments to the city charter that constituents will vote on in the May election. Once the 2024 charter election is complete, Mission cannot order another charter election for two years, per state law.

Election Day is May 4. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Mission Parks and Recreation, Mission Boys and Girls Club and Mission High School Neuhaus Gym.

Early voting runs April 22-27 and April 29-30. The polling locations are Mission Parks and Recreation and the Mission Boys and Girls Club at Bannworth Park, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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