The Berkeley City Auditor’s office released the Fiscal Year 2022 Audit Plan, which aims to evaluate specific city functions and help the city recover from financial issues brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Signed by city of Berkeley City Auditor Jenny Wong and emailed to the Berkeley City Council June 30, the plan details performance audits that will be conducted on city functions during the upcoming fiscal year, according to the plan. The audits, conducted by Wong’s office, will be used to address issues within the Berkeley community and ensure the city is “maximizing taxpayer dollars and delivering top-quality services,” according to the plan.
Wong said that through the audits, her office hopes to identify ways the city can recover from financial hardships that emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the decline in city revenues.
“Now, more than ever, we need to evaluate how the City can best respond to the communities most critical needs in a time of decreased revenues,” Wong said in the plan. “By embracing flexibility, and looking at both the short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on the organization, our office can help the City emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.”
Wong said since the pandemic started, her office shifted its focus toward the city’s response to COVID-19. This placed a hold on some audits and the city’s implementation of recommendations from prior audits, according to Wong.
For instance, Wong said her office had to pause an audit on employee retention during fiscal year 2020 due to the pandemic. This audit will continue under the new plan for fiscal year 2022, Wong said, and her office will resume its process of ensuring that the city implements recommendations from previous audits.
Wong added that her office will conduct an audit on the city’s financial condition as funding for city services and operations are “going to be tight” due to the pandemic.
“We’ve seen the impact from COVID-19,” Wong said. “It’s more important and critical than ever to understand the financial sustainability and long term fiscal sustainability of the city.”
The new audit plan incorporated suggestions from various community members, including the city manager, City Council and the Rent Stabilization Board, to determine which city functions would be audited, according to the plan.
Aside from employee retention, audits will be conducted for the Berkeley Police Department, the Rent Stabilization Board and the city’s role in addressing homelessness, the plan stated.
“My hope is that through conducting audits on important issues facing the Berkeley community, we can shine the light on what the issues are by using fact based analysis to better understand the issues and to understand important and relevant information to city management to improve on these issues,” Wong said.