FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the Office of the City Auditor?

The City Auditor is authorized to carry out oversight activities designed to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of the programs and operations of the Government of the City of Brownsville and prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse.

How does the City Auditor contribute to good government?

  • Offer analysis and advice on critical government-wide initiatives, such as computer security, program performance, workforce planning, and financial management.
  • Look independently at problems and recommend solutions.
  • Issue factual reports based on professional auditing standards.
  • Investigate fraud, misuse of funds, and other violations of laws and regulations.
  • Provide technical and consultative advice as the city develops new plans.
  • Maintain a hotline for reporting confidential information on fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Create public awareness on fraud, waste, and mismanagement.

Who does the City Auditor report to?

The City Auditor reports through the Audit & Oversight Committee to the City Commission. The City Commission is comprised of seven members made up of the Mayor and six City Commissioners. The City Auditor provides regular reports and updates to the Audit & Oversight Committee.

Is the City Auditor independent?

Yes. Auditors exercise independence when they give an impartial and unbiased assessment  in the course of their work. The City Auditor is independent of administrative control and political influence, and neither a program or department director or deputy can prevent or prohibit the City Auditor from conducting an audit or investigation. The City Auditor has direct access to all records and information.

How does the City Auditor choose what to audit or investigate?

Departments and programs are selected for audit based on the Annual Audit Plan that is approved by the Audit & Oversight Committee. This plan is based on requests from the City Commission, the City Manager, and an evaluation using risk and materiality criteria. The audit plan may be amended during the year. This may result in adding audits of new issues or requests or postponing or changing the scheduling of audits.

When does the City Auditor initiate an investigation?

Investigations are only initiated upon the receipt of credible information alleging an act of fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, or corruption within the City Auditor’s jurisdiction. Only the City Auditor can authorize the initiation of an investigation. 

Many inquires start with a referral from an agency or department, or from an audit. Other investigations begin when people call the City Auditor Hotline, a phone line specially dedicated to help citizens, including government workers, "blow the whistle" on waste, fraud, or abuse. The Hotline can be reached at (956) 546-4357 . Tips can also be reported online.

Are investigations confidential?

Ongoing investigations are exempt from public disclosure. Records prepared and obtained in connection with investigations conducted by the City Auditor are confidential and protected from disclosure. Investigative reports and management advisories are only disclosed to the involved parties and not to the public unless it is authorized by the City Auditor.

Is the City Auditor a law enforcement agency?

No. The City Auditor is not a law enforcement organization and does not, for example, have the power to arrest. However, any unlawful or criminal conduct discovered during an investigation can be referred to the District Attorney or other appropriate law enforcement agency for prosecution. The City Auditor has authority to conduct both administrative and criminal investigations relating to government resources.

What is the City Auditor’s general jurisdiction?

The City Auditor has authority to inspect and audit all accounts and financial records of the city government. This jurisdiction extends to every branch, department, office, political subdivision, board, commission, and agency of the government, and any other entity that receives public funds from the city. If the City Auditor does not have jurisdiction over a matter, it will be referred it to the appropriate agency or organization.

Are audit results made public?

Most are public documents. A broad array of recent reports is available elsewhere on this website. If you are interested in an earlier released report, please contact us and we will try to get a copy for you.

Do audit and investigations ever turn up anything besides bad news?

Absolutely! Many of the examinations show that programs are working effectively, and many others show that effective programs can be made even more so with moderate changes. Administrators and Managers within the government welcome unbiased opinions to help make good operations even better. 

What is the difference between the city audits and those of the outside or external auditors?

The City’s external auditors are not part of the City and make an independent determination whether the City’s financial statements follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). As a part of their audit, they render an opinion as to whether the city’s financial statements fairly represent the financial position and the changes in financial position of the City.

The Office of the City Auditor is part of the City and the scope of work involves more than a just a financial component. The work includes both financial and non-financial aspects, with a focus of helping the City accomplish its objectives through improved operations, risk management, internal controls, and good governance.

What professional standards apply to city audits, investigations, and other reviews?

 The City Auditor’s Office follows the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors in performing audits and managing the Internal Auditing Department. These standards, known as the Red Book, are principle-focused and provide a framework for performing and promoting internal auditing. Additionally, the standards require that, in all matters relating to audit work, the audit organization and individual auditors should be independent and that individual auditors maintain their professional competence through continuing professional education (CPE).

 Who audits the City Auditor?

Standards require the office of the City Auditor to undergo an external assessment or peer review every five years. The review provides reasonable assurance that the City Auditor’s Office has an adequate internal quality control system and that the work performed is in compliance with auditing standards.