October 7, 2011
Internal Audit Utilizes Data Mining
Mecklenburg County Internal Audit Department staff is implementing ACL data mining software to provide information for transparency and accountability. Data mining is an iterative process of selecting, exploring and modeling large amounts of data to identify meaningful, logical patterns and relationships among key variables. Data mining is used to uncover trends, predict future events and assess the merits of various courses of action.
The use of data mining provides ad-hoc analysis to support specific audit objectives. It also can be programmed to conduct ongoing analysis. Any data exceptions are exported and can be used for continuous auditing purposes or exception reports can be routinely sent to the department directors, giving management more insight and control over critical processes.
The Internal Audit Department staff also can leverage ACL software to improve the effectiveness of internal controls, thereby reducing exposure to financial and operational risk and helping to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse. ACL software also can be used to:
- Test and verify expenditures
- Increase procurement-card (p-card) efficiencies and monitor the use of p-cards
- Support grants and tax compliance
- Identify errors in social services and healthcare services claims and billings and to detect and prevent fraud
The County Finance Department has been identified as the pilot department for the data mining software rollout. Internal Audit staff is working with Finance Department staff to identify critical processes for continuous monitoring and have identified several initial target areas for analysis:
- Split purchases to avoid bidding requirements
- Duplicate payments to vendors
- Related party transactions between employees and
- Payments from inappropriate balance sheet accounts
- Retroactive purchase orders to identify policy non-compliance
Upon completing the Finance Department pilot, Internal Audit staff will survey other departments with high risk key processes to determine additional continuous auditing and monitoring opportunities. These opportunities will reviewed and prioritized to best meet the highest risks, given the available audit resources to develop, test and implement the ACL scripts.
Board members with questions should contact Internal Audit Department Director Joanne Whitmore via email or 704-336-2575.
Public Records Policy Implemented
Mecklenburg County has made a commitment to open and transparent government. To further this commitment, we have developed a Public Records Policy for managing public records, including specific steps for requesting public records. The Policy and Procedures are consistent with North Carolina laws that govern public records.
The policy and procedures were developed by the County’s Public Service & Public Information (PSI) staff under the direction of the Deputy County Attorney and County Manager’s Office. PSI staff will administer the procedures, including responding to public records requests that are not managed by public record custodians within specific departments.
The County Manager and Executive Team approved this administrative policy and procedures on September 28, 2011. The policy and procedures are available online by clicking on “Open Mecklenburg: Transparency in Government” icon on MecklenburgCountyNC.gov.
Board members with questions should contact General Manager John McGillicuddy at 704-336-2661 via email.
-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager