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Citizen Audit Committee

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Citizen Audit Committees (CAC) are formed by groups of citizen who review local government entitis’ financial information, internal controls, and the audit process.[1]

Forming a committee

Committees are compromised of groups of about 15 people per community. It should establish it's mission, for example cutting 10 percent of spending from a school budget, and then delegate tasks. These committees are often used for providing "oversight of the efficiency, effectiveness and economy" of government entities according to the Yankee Institute.[2]

Running a committee

Normally these committees work in a closed door proceeding and then present their finding during a public meeting. They also commonly will form subcommittees to focus on certain areas of a budget or checkbook register. May will conduct trainings on how to review and analyze checkbook registers, master teacher schedules and purchasing procedures as well as other databases.[2]

What to look for

Below are some areas that are commonly reviewed by CACs:

Documents

  • Checkbook register: should ask for check numbers, dollar amounts, invoice numbers, and reference to the line item and department.
  • Master Teacher Schedule: Provides each classroom teacher, subjects taught, day-to-day assignments, room number, number of students

Municipal Governments & Schools

Below are some areas to check into suggested by the Yankee Institute:[2]

  • Asset Management: Follow how purchases are tracked. Often there is not a system in place for local governments to catalog purchases which resulted to an average loss of $250,000-$1,400,000 in 500 survey school districts.
  • Benefits: Check on how part timers receive benefits.
  • Cash Collections: check on cash collected through fees, fines, tax payments, licenses and other common funds.
  • Energy Conservation: Check if they are using local maintenance and modification programs.
  • Insurance: How does the bid process work? How often to they re-bid the contract?
  • Legal Services: Can different government bodies share a firm for lower costs?
  • Salaries/Wages and Benefits: This usually entails 80 percent of a budget. Check for accurate payroll, benefit records and productivity.
  • Service Duplication within Town
  • Technology: A lot of the time you can find stuff on the internet for greatly reduced prices than those offered by contracts.
  • Utilities: Check for differences at similar organizations and see if there is a way to cut down at one.

Schools only

Below are some areas to check into suggested by the Yankee Institute:[2]

  • Activity and sports funding
  • Bus transportation
  • Class size
  • Scheduling
  • Teacher course schedule
  • Teacher substitutes
  • Textbooks online

Resources

History of committees

In 2009 the "10 in 10" project is being driven by the Yankee Institute with other volunteers in Redding, Connecticut. It aims to reduce the town budget by 10 percent in 2010.[3] It was started after 4 other towns Spring Avon, Farmington, Stonington and Ridgefield rejected their budgets. The town is now working with over 15 volunteers to cut down the town budget.[4][5]

Enfield, Connecticut also formed a CAC in 2009 and was able to cut $750,000 out of the budget. This was done by requesting to the checkbook register which revealed the extra costs of heating oil which was budgeted for $115,000.[6]

References