Bean Counter's Paradise

Miami finally hired an auditor with talent and fortitude. His work thus far will enrich the city and turn your stomach.

"We take it serious," Manager Gimenez says of the audit findings. "Sometimes people don't like what he's saying, but it's always better to have the knowledge. Sometimes I send him on expedition trips myself, maybe having him take a look at a contract to make sure the city is getting all the money it is supposed to."

Following the money is the mission of the department, Igwe says. Suggestions on what money to follow come from different sources: city officials like Gimenez, workers, anonymous tipsters, letter writers, even newspaper stories, such as the Miami Herald's examination of former city Manager Donald Warshaw's Do The Right Thing charity. Igwe confirmed the printed allegations of wanton misspending even though Warshaw was the man who had hired him.

"When I took the job, that was one condition that I gave," Igwe recalls. "I asked him: “Am I going to be free to do my risk analysis and my audits?' He told me I can do whatever audits I want. If I had gotten any other indication, if I had gotten any message that I can't do what I want to do, I wouldn't have come to Miami in the first place. I wanted to be independent. So far nobody's ever told me what to put or not put in a report. I wouldn't stand for it."

Miami's in-house auditor Victor Igwe is getting the job done, and it ain't a pretty sight
Steve Satterwhite
Miami's in-house auditor Victor Igwe is getting the job done, and it ain't a pretty sight

Although he is a department director, free to attend meetings and sign off on his staff reports, Igwe continues to work directly in some way on every audit he approves. The cost to him is twelve- and thirteen-hour days. The payoff to the city, though, can be immense. In one of his department's more significant audits (the city's long-distance telephone contract), Igwe discovered that the city had overpaid provider MCI more than $400,000 from 1992 to 2000. The city is seeking a refund.

"Nobody actually looked at the contract to see what MCI had promised to deliver and what they were actually charging the city," says Igwe. "I was looking at the phone bills provided by each department head, and then I looked at the minutes used. I divided it and determined it was 27 cents a minute. I said, “Gee, I pay ten cents a minute at home.'

"I think we made a difference," he concludes.


Victor Igwe's Greatest Hits

In one year on the job, from October 1, 1998, through September 30, 1999, Victor Igwe and his auditors identified more than $1.1 million in additional revenue due the City of Miami, almost all of which subsequently was collected. Organizations audited ranged from the huge multinational supplier of the city's computers to a local day care that received a modest city grant. Igwe's audits revealed the following:

Unisys Corporation: An audit of the city's computer provider found a total of $649,695 in duplicate payments, overpayment, and other credits were made to Unisys in error by the city's finance department. Unisys granted the city credit for the full amount. Furthermore payments totaling $6.3 million had been processed and paid either without supporting invoices, purchase orders, or other pertinent source documents.

Kimmins Recycling Corporation: An audit of the waste hauler determined that additional fees totaling $187,368 were owed the city. This amount has been collected.

United Environmental Services of South Florida, Inc.: An audit of the waste hauler determined that additional fees totaling $1140 were owed the city. This amount has been collected.

Catering by David Lynn, Inc.: The audit of the concessionaire for all events held at the Orange Bowl determined that additional revenues totaling $13,161 were due the city. Catering by David Lynn continued to operate under an agreement that had expired. The concessionaire subleased its concession privileges to another vendor without the required written consent of the city, failed to provide the city a certified financial statement, failed to provide a report on inventory shrinkage, and did not account for total gross receipts in a separate bank account, all as required by the agreement.

Waste Management of Dade County, Inc.: An audit of the waste hauler determined that additional fees $235,542.77 were due the City. An agreement for $107,653 settlement was reached between the city and WMDC. This amount has been recovered.

International Trade Board-Hemispheric Health Ministers Conference: An audit disclosed that the conference sustained a loss of $20,682. This finding contradicts the conference's financial report, which reflects $7500 in revenues and $7500 in expenses. Documents supporting revenues, expenditures, and other transactions were not retained on file by the International Trade Board for postaudit.

Environmental Waste Systems, Inc.: An audit of the waste hauler determined that additional fees totaling $26,743 were due the city. This amount has been recovered.

Haitian American Foundation, Inc.: An audit revealed numerous internal-control weaknesses that led to the community development department suspending funding to the agency.

Petty Cash and Working Funds: Surprise cash verifications were performed over a three-month period. An audit disclosed petty cash and change-fund shortages totaling $218.71. The city has been reimbursed.

Globe Facility Services, Inc.: An audit of the city's convention center operator noted that GFSI was advanced a total of $127,997 in excess of the actual expenditures incurred. GFSI reimbursed the city.

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