Portland City Auditor Seeking Input on City Charter Amendments

Please take advantage of two opportunities in December to discuss Charter amendments City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero believes are necessary to protect the Auditor’s ability to hold City government accountable through independent audits and investigations. Your views will help shape the final proposal from the Auditor that City Council will be consider in January.

Thursday, Dec. 15, 6-7:30 p.m.
East Portland Community Center
740 SE 106th Ave.

Friday, Dec. 16, Brown Bag from 12-1 p.m.
City Hall, Lovejoy Room
1221 SW 4th Ave.

Auditor Hull Caballero will describe organizational structures that create conflicts of interest between her office and executive branch bureaus the Auditor must hold accountable. Other jurisdictions have structures designed to protect auditors and investigators from impediments or reprisal for simply doing their jobs. The Auditor believes Portland should adopt changes to ensure the Auditor’s Office is able to meet the public’s expectations for transparent and accountable government.

The changes proposed include:

  • Placing the Independent Police Review and the Office of the Ombudsman into Charter. Currently, these functions, which investigate Portlanders’ complaints against the City, are in Code and can be removed from the Auditor’s Office or eliminated by a simple majority vote of the City Council. Placing them in Charter will mean only a vote of the people could eliminate these offices, which have been in the Auditor’s Office for 15 years. Charter protections would insulate these offices from political pressure and reprisal.
  • Authorizing the Auditor to obtain independent legal advice that is focused on the mission of the Auditor’s Office. The Auditor should be able to obtain independent legal advice rather than being required to rely on the same attorneys who advise those she holds accountable. This is especially important when investigations involve other elected officials who appoint and supervise the City Attorney.
  • Creating a budget process that ensures the Auditor’s Office is appropriately funded and insulated from political interference. The current process leaves the Auditor’s budget vulnerable to other elected officials whose bureaus are the subjects of audits and investigations. An independent budget process would respect both the City Council’s fiduciary role and the Auditor’s watchdog role.
  • Affirming the Auditor’s Office is autonomous from the Office of Management and Finance and other bureaus. The Auditor should be responsible for personnel, procurement and other decisions and well as ensuring that proper controls are in place to comply with state and federal laws. The Auditor will periodically procure or conduct internal quality control reviews of divisions in the Auditor’s Office and report results to the public.

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