Oxnard’s disappointing ides of April Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting

Audit/CAFR delayed AGAIN, Internal auditor RFP botched

EditorialBy Phil Molina


Editors’ s note:  Oxnard has organized a fiscal policy task force to address policy and execution issues in Finance, due the accounting meltdown and financial problems. Citizens Journal.us has been attending the meetings and asking lots of questions, since the  meetings are a better “window” to see what’s going on there than the City Council meetings.

This morning’s Fiscal Policy Task Force was not fun, not interesting, and not a positive educational experience.


4-15-16 Oxnard Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting. Photo: Dan Pinedo/CitizensJournal.us

My understanding of what we were told this morning:

A. Internal Independent Auditor process:

  1. The city staff’s decided to eliminate some auditing firms they notified to bid on the Internal Independent Auditing function without justifying the reasons.
  2. Mr. Millican acknowledged he had made an error when he told Council that none of the Big Four auditing firms would be interesting in doing work for the City of Oxnard only after Councilman Perello informed the Task Force of a phone conversation he had with the representative for Ernst & Young, who told Councilman Perello that they would be very willing to have staff come to Oxnard to explain what their firm does for cities of all sizes and that they are willing to submit proposals to work for Oxnard. (Ernst & Young is one of the BIG FOUR auditing firms in the world, literally.)
  3. The staff accepted email submittals as the formal responses to Requests for Proposals and expected the public to accept that they had not shared information of one bid with other bidders.
  4. Yet, staff was shown that the city had accepted at least one bid that was submitted weeks after the published deadline. When questioned the staff person said “it was a typo” and expected the public and the Council members to accept that excuse.
  5. Mr. MacDonald, Chairman of the Fiscal Policy Task Force, said it was clear to him that the issue of identifying the Internal Independent Auditor was not going to be decided today and it would not be forwarded to the Council. 



Event video by Dan Pinedo/CitizensJournal.us …..

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B. Status of current financial audit:

  1. The city attorney, Stephen Fischer, admitted that he had received documents from the IRS attorney (?) concerning a tax audit the IRS is doing for past Oxnard financial transactions. But Stephen Fisher said he would not tell anything about the tax audit until he had more time to review the material. It seemed according the city’s financial auditors that they too had not received a copy of the material from the IRS, and one City Council Member, Mr. Perello, was perplexed that he had not previously been informed about an IRS tax audit going on simultaneously with the financial audit.
  2. The financial auditors told the Task Force and the public they will do their best to get the audit done by mid June, but only if staff can prepare the remaining worksheets the auditors need to review on schedule.
  3. The staff said both they and the auditors did not have enough people with government accounting knowledge to do the work and supervise the work that is needed. When the public reminded everyone that there are many local people and local auditing firms that have made themselves available to assist the city, we were told that it is too late to bring any new people on board.
  4. The auditors and Mr. Millican informed us that they have been in contact with the banks and everyone is aware of the tenuous nature of this audit process. The new tentative deadline for finishing the audit is mid June 2016. This will be the audit for the period ending June 2015.

Maybe I’m being too critical on this issue, since this was my line of work.

Phil Molina is an Oxnard resident, former Oxnard Finance Director and “whistleblower,” who exposed alleged corruption, and was fired. He sued and won a large award, after many years of litigation.

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