The Office of Inspector General's mission is to provide citizens living within the boundaries of the South Florida Water Management District, including its Governing Board, elected representatives and District management with an independent view of operations through objective and professional audits, investigations, reviews,and evaluations of the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of taxpayer-financed programs.
Contact us to report significant instances of waste, misconduct, or mismanagement including the following:
- Illegal or fraudulent conduct that endangers the public's health, safety, or welfare
- Gross mismanagement
- Gross waste of public funds
- Gross neglect of duty
Inspector General's Reports
The legal basis for the Inspector General's authority to conduct these audits is contained in Chapter 20.055, F.S. Agency inspector general. Chapter 373.079, F.S. authorizes the Governing Board to appoint an Inspector General whose scope of work is unrestricted. Our office is independent of District management and cannot be prevented "from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation." As such, we also have the authority to audit the records of private firms and nonprofit organizations which are awarded contracts by the District or receive District funds through cooperative agreements. We are also responsible for advising on performance measures, standards and procedures for evaluating our programs, and assessing the reliability and validity of information we provide which measures our programs, and make recommendations for improvement, if necessary. We also help ensure that there is effective coordination and cooperation with federal and state auditors with a view towards facilitating their work and avoiding duplication.
Chapter 112.3187 through 112.31895 [112.3187; 112.3188; 112.3189; 112.31895] constitute the Whistle-Blower's Act. The intent of this act is to prevent retaliatory action against an employee who reports violations of laws or improper use of government office, gross waste of funds, or any other abuse or gross neglect of duty committed by an employee or agent of the District or independent contractor. We are responsible for receiving, investigating, and reporting to the appropriate authorities, at the conclusion of any investigation arising from any disclosure covered under this act by an employee of the District, or an independent contractor, or any other person. The Whistle-blower policy outlines the process for disclosing, investigating, and maintaining the confidentiality of information, regarding allegations of violations of the law on the part of an employee or agent of the District, or independent contractor that create a substantial and specific danger to the public's health, safety, or welfare. More information on the Whistle-blower Act is contained in Policy No. 15.300 of the District's Administrative Policy Manual. However, District employees are encouraged to contact our office if they require assistance in interpreting the act and its applicability to their particular circumstances.
The State's Whistle-Blower's Hotline is not for general complaints or suggestions. Other means are available for resolving personnel problems or recommending cost-saving measures. Should an employee feel (s)he has been discriminated against as it relates to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual harassment, marital status, or handicap, (s)he is strongly encouraged to discuss the situation with all levels of management, including his/her Department Director and/or the Personnel Director See Policy #03.20100 Equal Employment Opportunity and Policy # 3.704 Employee Grievance Procedures).
The Whistle-Blower's Hotline is reserved for reporting:
- illegal or fraudulent conduct, that endangers the public's health, safety or welfare;
- gross mismanagement;
- gross waste of public funds; or
- gross neglect of duty.
The Office of Inspector General has been designated the official contact for reporting suspected fraudulent or other dishonest acts. Employees, with a reasonable basis for believing such acts have occurred, have a responsibility to report it to their supervisor, appropriate administrator, or the Office of Inspector General.
Supervisors and administrators at all levels of management who become aware of suspected fraudulent and dishonest activity, are to respond to the suspected activity in a consistent and appropriate manner and shall report the suspected activity to the Office of Inspector General. The Office of Inspector General will then determine if an investigation is warranted. If it is determined that an investigation is warranted, the Office of Inspector General will investigate the suspected fraudulent or dishonest act, and depending on the nature of the complaint may consult with the District's: Legal Counsel, Ombudsman, Human Resources Division, EEO officer, or other administrators as appropriate.
Employees shall not confront the individual being investigated, or initiate investigations on their own, as such actions can compromise their safety and any ensuing investigation. In those instances where the Inspector General's investigation indicates criminal activity, the appropriate law enforcement agency will be notified.
Section 20.055, F. S., provides the Office of Inspector General authority to initiate, conduct, supervise and coordinate investigations designed to detect, deter, prevent, and eradicate fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct and other abuses within the District. Investigations are received by the Inspector General's Office from many sources including the State Comptroller's Get Lean Hotline, the Chief Inspector General's (Governor's Office) Whistle-Blower hotline, and District management. Other agencies or governmental units may also refer certain allegations or issues to our office.
District employees or members of the public are encouraged to come forward, when warranted, with allegations of suspicious activities or wrongdoing. Facts may also be found during audits that call for investigative procedures.
During an audit, we will require access to records, files, and other information to effectively complete the audit. We have access to any records, data, and other District information per Chapter 20.055(5)(c), F.S. We are granted access to all District records and documents; have the ability to request reasonable assistance from appropriate personnel in acquiring requested records and documents; have inspection privileges to all assets owned, leased or borrowed by the District, and have entry privileges to all facilities used by the District. Auditors are expected to maintain the confidentiality of any records that are confidential and are subject to penalties for violating confidentiality. An audit report and related work papers become public record when the audit becomes final. An audit becomes final when it is presented to the Governing Board (Chapter 119.07(3)(y), F.S.)
Internal Audit Charter
The audit activities of the Office of Inspector General are subject to a quality review at least once every three years by a professional, non-partisan objective group utilizing guidelines endorsed by theU.S. General Accounting Office (GAO). A copy of the written report of the independent review is furnished to the Governing Board and Executive Director. The most recent peer review report can be accessed here.
The U.S. General Accounting Office has issued auditing standards for two basic types of government audits:
PERFORMANCE AUDITS are objective and systematic examinations of evidence for the purpose of providing an independent assessment of the performance of an existing or proposed government organization, program, or activity in order to provide useful information to improve public accountability and decision-making. Performance audits include economy and efficiency and program audits, and are defined as follows:
- Economy and efficiency audits – include determining (a) whether the entity is acquiring, protecting, and utilizing its resources (such as personnel, property, and space) economically and efficiently, (b) the causes of inefficiencies or uneconomical practices, and (c) whether the entity has complied with laws and regulations concerning matters of economy and efficiency.
- Program audits – include determining (a) the extent to which the desired results or benefits established by the legislature or other authorizing body are being achieved, (b) the effectiveness of organizations, programs, activities, or functions, and (c) whether the entity has complied with significant laws and regulations applicable to the program.
FINANCIAL AUDITS include financial related and financial statement audits, and are defined as follows:
- Financial related audits – include determining (a) whether financial information is presented in accordance with established or stated criteria, (b) whether the entity has adhered to specific financial compliance requirements, and (c) whether the entity's internal control structure or specific areas of risk over financial reporting are suitably designed and implemented to achieve the control objectives. Financial related audits may include audits of segments of financial statements, contracts and grants, internal control reviews, and financial systems such as payroll or procurement.
- Financial statement audits – provide reasonable assurance about (a) whether the financial statements of an audited entity present fairly the financial position, results of financial operations and cash flows, or changes in financial position in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (i.e., an opinion statement audit), and (b) whether the entity has complied with laws and regulations for those transactions and events that may have a material effect upon the financial statements. Financial Statement audits are typically performed annually by independent certified public accounting firms engaged by the District. In the past the Inspector General's Office has provided assistance to the outside C.P.A. firm.
We prepare an annual audit plan each fiscal year based upon a periodic risk assessment. The annual plan is reviewed and approved by the Governing Board's Audit Committee. From time to time, the Executive Director and his Department heads may request that we perform an audit, investigation, or review. We evaluate the merits of these requests before they are initiated. The annual plan may subsequently be amended to reflect these projects after review by the Audit Committee.
A typical audit has several interrelated stages or activities. These include an Opening Conference, Preliminary Audit Survey, Fieldwork Phase, Preliminary Audit Survey and Closing Conference.
An opening conference is scheduled with District officials. A major objective of the opening conference is establishing a climate in which management and staff are aware of the audit process and are provided an opportunity for input. The following matters should be covered:
- Scope of audit including program areas being reviewed and period of time covered or specific areas District officials may want examined
- Procedures for obtaining information and transmitting preliminary audit findings
- Establishing appropriate communication channels
- Any known improprieties that have occurred since the last audit
- Standard reporting procedures for preliminary, draft and final reports, including the need for responses from management
- Arrangements for office space, equipment, etc.
We conduct a survey of organizational and program information before the major audit effort begins. The objective is to develop a more complete understanding of the areas which will be audited. Laws, regulations, policies, and other background material is gathered. The organizational structure relating to the activity is examined and some preliminary testing of transactions may occur to assess the strength of internal controls.
This phase consists of the focused audit effort and usually comprises the single largest amount of time. It consists of gathering documentary evidence and performing analysis and substantive tests of the records relating to the areas audited. We compare criteria gathered in the survey stage to conditions actually found and determine cause and effect.
After completing the fieldwork phase for each audit segment, we will discuss the findings and conclusions with involved District management and develop recommendations. Responses to these preliminary findings should be provided and all factual differences resolved before the audit team leaves the site. This facilitates the preparation of an accurate draft report but more importantly alerts District Staff, on a timely basis, of our findings. We will recognize early implementation of audit recommendations when it occurs and acknowledge the corrective action taken in the final audit report.
At the completion of fieldwork, the audit team will meet with District management to discuss audit results. Since most of the preliminary findings were transmitted and discussed during the audit fieldwork, the closing conference will primarily be a broad summary of audit results and, possibly, include any additional comments from District officials.
Draft and Final Audit Report
The report is the audit's end product and is the basic means by which we inform interested parties of the results of our efforts.
Draft audit reports are distributed only to District officials, including Governing Board members, for review and comment. Final audit reports are presented to the Governing Board's Audit Committee and subsequently become public documents available to anyone requesting them.
Responsibilities of the District's Management and Staff
- Have a responsibility to apply resources efficiently, effectively, and economically so that taxpayers receive value for their money
- Are accountable to the public and to other levels and branches of government
- Are responsible for establishing and maintaining effective internal control systems to ensure:
- Goals and objectives are met
- District assets and resources are safeguarded
- Laws and regulations are followed
- Reliable data are obtained, maintained, and accurately reported
We understand the audit process can put a strain on the auditee. Our auditors are always seeking ways to reduce disruption to operations and to minimize the additional burden on staff. We seek and welcome your cooperation during our review, as well as your constructive suggestions for improving the audit process.