TARTA General Manager James Gee, who should have been replaced after illegally spending taxpayer monies on the levy campaign, has presented several excuses for the "unauditable" finding.
These poorly-presented excuses do not ring true - and certainly don't account for the finding from the State Auditor.
His first response was that the missing audit items were "minor." However, in looking at the list of items the State Auditor ordered him to produce, you can see they are clearly NOT minor.
Gee's other excuse is that they installed a new computer system. Having installed a major computer system as Clerk of Toledo Municipal Court, as well as overseen the transition of Lucas County to a new ERP system, I know such a switch should never result in "unauditable" books.
The Clerk's computer system wasn't just my office, but was part of a complete replacement of individual systems in the Toledo Police Department, Clerk of Court, Toledo Municipal Judges, Lucas County Sheriff's Department Correction Center (county jail) and CCNO - the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio. Not only did we replace each of the systems in these agencies, we merged them into a single overall system that shared data and information across jurisdictions, resulting in the elimination of duplicate entries, etc. Each of these systems kept records for the agencies as well as financial data, including much more complicated financial records that what TARTA has to deal with.
None of the agencies participating the criminal justice computer replacement were unable to complete their audits like TARTA.
If, as Gee claims, the switch to a new computer system is to blame, then it is his administration and oversight, as well as his lack of planning and anticipation of needs, etc... that caused the State Auditor finding - not the computer system itself.
It is his leadership of the transition and/or the staff that is fully at fault for not adequately handling the installation of a new computer system in a manner than ensures the accountability of the agency to the public for the funds they are receiving and expending.
So even if the "unauditable" finding is partially due to a new computer system, he is still the one to blame for not making sure the agency could function throughout the transition.
His other excuse was that there was new staff in the financial office.
He obviously hired the staff, so why did he hire people who can't produce such basics audit items as a list of contracts - new computer system or not? And why would he hire new staff as he was embarking upon a computer transition?
Even if 'new staff' is partially to blame for the "unauditable" finding, it is still his responsibility as General Manager to hire the right people and ensure they are properly trained so that an audit can be completed.
Again, he is to blame.
His last excuse is that he had trouble scheduling meetings with the private accounting firm, Clifton Gunderson, who was hired to do the audit.
Talk about lame. In a full year, with today's technology, you couldn't get a meeting date???
This certainly doesn't sound valid. Clifton Gunderson is a well-respected national firm that has wide experience in doing public audits. From their website:
Clifton Gunderson is registered with the Public Company Auditor Oversight Board (PCAOB) and is a member of the Audit Quality Center of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), as well as the Government Audit Quality Center and the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center. Our accounting and auditing quality control systems have earned unmodified reports in all of our peer reviews and a clean report from the PCAOB.
Does this really sound like a company that can't schedule a meeting?
Or is it more likely that TARTA - and James Gee, personally - are to blame for his 'lack of meeting' excuse? Besides, it doesn't take a personal meeting to produce the missing documents so an audit can be completed.
So, no matter what lame excuse Gee has presented, he is the General Manager and it was/is his responsibility to have the audit completed. He can try to blame others, but the real fault is in his lack of leadership and oversight.
He needs to go.
* "unauditable" is not an actual word, but is the term the Auditor of State has used for a number of years now to indicate the status of public agencies whose books cannot be audited, for one reason or another.