PA readying to start forensic audit

Published 8:50 am Monday, November 9, 2015

A year since Port Arthur residents first suggested the city would benefit from a forensic audit, the selection of a firm to perform a deep-dive look into the city’s finances is in its final stages.

From a field of five or six applicants, two national firms were picked as finalists, BKD, in Houston, and Crowe Horwath, a Dallas-based firm.

A forensic audit committee made up of city employees chose the firms.

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City Manager Brian McDougal said both of the firms have met with the selection committee, and that a decision is expected soon.

The committee looked at the firms’ experience, whether they were accomplished at performing forensic audits, the depth of their staffs and relevant work with municipalities and governmental entities.

“It is my hope we have this on the Council’s agenda in November,” McDougal said.

Though the idea of a forensic audit was first suggested last November, it was April before City Council certified a petition calling for one.

By January, McDougal came on board to lead the city and began looking for money to pay for the audit, which could carry a hefty price tag.

“We could not do anything with it until the budget was adopted. We did not have any money encumbered,” McDougal said.

In the new 2015-2016 budget $100,000 has been set aside to pay for the first phase of an audit expected to take three years before it is complete.

The first phase includes the areas citizens asked for in their petition: the city’s housing, human resources, finance and public works departments, said Willie “Bae” Lewis, District 5 Councilman, who, along with Councilman Stephen Mosely, first called for the forensic audit.

“It is about time. We hear every two or three times a day from citizens about when it is going to get start,” Lewis said.

Once the money was allocated for Phase I of the audit, the city sent out Requests for Proposals.

Once the firm is chosen, the city will have to negotiate a scope of work, and a price, McDougal said.

Committee Chairman Clifton Williams said he is in the process of ranking the two firms running for the job.

Once they are ranked, Williams will provide the information to the city manager, which will make a recommendation to City Council, sometime in November or early December at the latest

“We are almost at the tail end of this process,” Williams said.

Once Phase I is complete, the city will begin the process of implementing Phase II, then Phase III. The entire audit is expected to take three years to complete, but could take less, depending on what is found along the way, McDougal said.

“At this point, I have no idea what it may uncover,” McDougal said.


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