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County has much to address in latest audit
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Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County Commission, based on findings of an outside audit of the county’s business practices, has voted unanimously to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to look at questionable financial dealings from the past in the county’s election office.

Frankly, we’re not sure what to make of that decision by county commissioners.

The problems in the election office were identified long ago, steps have been taken to correct them, and unless there is some obvious criminal intent that has yet to come to light it is hard to imagine a role for the Justice Department in the debate.

But if Justice officials see cause for action, more power to them.

That said, we hope commissioners won’t let their acute focus on the county’s election office distract them from other findings in the internal audit.

That document, based on a study that cost the county nearly $100,000, is more than 100 pages long, and only about four pages deal with the election office.

The assessment of internal controls by Sawyer & Co. covered operational issues for 35 different county offices and departments. Its findings and recommendations go deep into the operational foundation of the county government.

Among the audit’s findings is a lack of uniform accounting procedures throughout the county government, with various departments using different methods for keeping up with county revenues.

“There is no uniform methodology for reconciliation of cash receipts, which increases the risk of wasted or duplicated effort, error, fraud or abuse,” the report states in a finding which hopefully will be as interesting to commissioners as the review of the election office.

There are dozens of findings and recommendations in the report, some of which would seem to require immediate attention while others are of a much less significant nature.

The audit points out: a lack of controls in the handling of SPLOST revenues; the need for elected officials to make known any business relationships they may have with the county government; a need for more informative financial reporting; a lack of definition of responsibility in financial functions of different departments; the need for digitized county records; un-necessary duplication of efforts; need for additional help in certain departments and staff reductions in others; a need for im-proved asset and inventory tracking.

There are numerous findings and recommendations contained in the Sawyer Report that do not require the involvement of any agency outside the county government to address.

Hopefully we soon will hear county officials discussing solutions to those problems with the same zeal as that evidenced by last week’s election office discussion.