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Audit Suggestions for Sheriff's Dept.

June 22, 1997

Concerning the management audit conducted for the Sheriff's Department by a private accounting firm discussed in your June 12 editorial:

The audit made 38 recommendations; however, implementation of these recommendations does not translate to a sudden $22-million windfall for county government. The audit report's actual wording, "estimated potential savings" of "$16 million to $21.9 million," conveys a sense of the actual situation. I intend to implement the recommendations in accordance with the law and within the dictates of county policy.

For instance, two of the primary recommendations in terms of potential savings involve consideration of civilianization and utilizing outside facilities management contractors. Civilianization in many cases requires compliance with labor law dictates about negotiating with employee representation groups. Evaluating contractors requires adherence to County Code provisions governing vendor bids. Both processes are designed to ensure fairness but can protract the achievement of results.

The audit report acknowledged the magnitude of the budget cuts which the Sheriff's Department has faced since 1992, and that the department is facing an additional $12-million cut for 1997-98. We intend to immediately capitalize on portions of the audit recommendations to offset some of the anticipated $12-million reduction. To clarify a misconception, the cost of reopening our 1,000-bed facility approximates $17 million, not $12 million.

Last November I requested this management audit in a spirit of openness and cooperation. Maintaining a posture of inviting constructive criticism serves the public good. Such a stance, accompanied by audits comparable to these recently undertaken by the Sheriff's Department, would undoubtedly benefit all county departments and public agencies.

SHERIFF SHERMAN BLOCK

Los Angeles County

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