Manatee schools audit committee discusses delegation of interal audit hours

mdelaney@bradenton.comJuly 10, 2014 

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School District is expecting to pay about $315,000 for 1,795 hours of work done by an internal auditing company. But a district committee is still discussing how those hours should be spent.

On Wednesday, the district's audit committee discussed during a regular meeting how the internal audit company, Shinn and Co., should spend its time for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

A bulk of the discussion focused on how many hours the company should spend examining money spent "special projects" or unplanned circumstances. The more hours spent on such analysis detracts from the number of hours spent on basic audit services.

"We'd love to have an unlimited supply of dollars to do it, especially now that we know we have a lot of things to be done. But we don't, we have a limited budget," said audit committee chair Joseph Blitzko.

Blitzko presented the committee with two options, one in which auditors spend 390 hours analyzing special projects and another in which auditors spend 150 hours on special projects.

"I'd set aside the higher number of hours because if we don't need them we can always pick another audit to be completed," said Rebecca Roberts, the district's finance director, who attended the meeting.

Byron Shinn, the internal auditor, also recommended going with the higher set of special project hours based on the number of special projects the district had in the past year.

The committee did not decide on the priorities Wednesday and scheduled a special phone conference meeting for Monday. During that conference the team is expected to vote on a proposed contract with Shinn and Co. for the 2014-15 year. The committee wants to act swiftly so the board can take action at its July 22 meeting.

An external audit slammed the district with 42 findings, amounting to more than $10 million in questionable spending. The audit findings also required the district to restore millions in mismanaged funds.

The auditors ordered the Manatee County School District to restore about $7 million misspent in past budgets.

As of June 30, the 26 designated high-priority findings had been reviewed by the internal auditors, according to updates given Wednesday. Seventeen have been put in a yellow category, which means some action still needs to be taken before the case can be considered closed, Neil Unruh, an audit partner at Shinn and Co. told the committee Wednesday.

"Those will be occurring in the first quarter of this fiscal year," he said.

The internal auditors will now begin to focus on the findings deemed medium- or low-priority, Unruh said.

Meghin Delaney, edcation reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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