Spotsylvania needs an internal auditor

Spotsylvania County, including the school division, is a $500 million business. Yet there is not a single internal auditor on the staff of the county or the schools. In the real world of business, every company of that size has a complete internal auditing department, not just an employee.

Internal auditors cannot prevent all fraud, but they do reduce both the frequency of theft as well as minimizing the amount of any misappropriation . This is because employees know that internal auditors can appear at any time.

Just as effective traffic enforcement reduces speeding and accidents, even though there is not an officer at every corner, so can internal auditors pay for themselves many times over.

Several citizens have been requesting for years that Spotsylvania hire at least one internal auditor, at an annual cost, including benefits, of probably $125,000. Every year, the county administrator and Board of Supervisors have turned down this suggestion.

Now it should be clear that this has been a “penny wise, pound foolish” decision. Whether the specific $600,000 misappropriation would have been prevented represents “hindsight.” But as sure as the county has several thousand employees, there will be continuing temptations.

Internal auditors are trained to identify these system weaknesses and institute financial and operating controls that dramatically decrease risks.

Rather than wait until the next budget year, Spotsylvania County should immediately undertake a search for a competent and qualified internal auditor. There are many qualified citizens who can help lead a search and identify one or more candidates for this new position.

Alfred M. King


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