Clark County Auditor’s Office recommends changes to improve county’s contract oversight

Contract maintenance in Clark County is limited by a lack of vision, communication, coordination, and training according to findings of the audit

VANCOUVER — The Clark County Audit Oversight Committee met Tuesday to consider a recent performance audit of countywide contract maintenance. The internal audit is available on the county website at: https://www.clark.wa.gov/auditor/audit-reports.

Audit conclusion

Contract maintenance in Clark County is limited by a lack of vision, communication, coordination, and training according to findings of the audit.

In particular, current county policies and practices do not address data interdependencies between departments with shared responsibilities over fiscal management and external reporting requirements.

As a result of a decentralized structure and shared responsibilities, departments have implemented a variety of tools and systems to meet their needs. While necessary to address unique requirements, the decentralized structure with shared responsibilities also created some duplication as a number of systems attempt to meet different needs with similar information.

The county’s testing found data in departmental files and systems were generally inconsistent. Contract files required by county policy also lacked consistency or were incomplete. Reports from departmental contracting systems were not reliably on time. A lack of contract maintenance standards at state and county levels contributed to the inconsistencies. Limited training for contracting staff was a widespread issue.

Recommendations

The audit indicated that county policy should be updated to acknowledge departments’ shared responsibilities and clearly define their roles. Policy also should address oversight, testing, and additional internal controls to implement standards. These standards should address issues such as the consistency and timeliness of access to contract maintenance data.

The county should develop a countywide index of all contracts and required supporting files. The index ideally would include standard financial contracts as well as non-financial documents. It would improve communication and increase opportunities for departments to coordinate shared responsibilities.

Lastly, the county should identify training requirements for staff with contract maintenance responsibilities and establish and implement a training program. 

“This is an issue the county needs to address,” said Auditor Greg Kimsey. “We hope that by identifying core issues and suggesting potential solutions, we will help the county establish a capable and resilient contract maintenance process.”

The county’s Audit Services Department conducts performance audits, internal control reviews, and provides other services to county management. For more information, go to the county’s website at https://www.clark.wa.gov/auditor/internal-auditperformance-audit-services-overview.

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.

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