DeKalb’s annual audit turns up deficiencies in physical security

Amid habitual deficiencies in internal financial controls, DeKalb’s move to a new city hall has created physical security risks, according to the city’s auditor for budget year 2020.

During our observation of the City’s internal controls, we noted the initial entrance/front of the building has limited security and minimal restriction to the departments stationed in this area. Access from the back of the building is also available and requires no key card for entry. Cash and other City tangible assets/property should be reasonably safeguarded to protect the City from loss.

We recommend the City implement a more restrictive environment, where departmental employees work together to avoid instances where one employee is left being responsible for the department, running the cash registers, and overseeing the City safe. In order to help mitigate this risk, we recommend the City implement and enforce a more comprehensive control environment where appropriate/trained employees can support the department and the public. In addition, to improve physical access and ensure security amongst City employees and the general public, we recommend implementing a key card and electronic access system.

Auditor’s Communication to the city council and management, page 14 (page 256 of the PDF file).

Management response:

City Finance Staff have lock and vault procedures in place to protect on site [sic] assets. Presently, the building maintains two entry points to accommodate individuals with a physical disability. City Staff in FY2021 can investigate modifying the Lincoln Hwy entrance into an Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant entry thus eliminating the need for having an additional open door on the first floor.

City hall has been in this building a year. Blaming the ADA for not fixing the entry issue doesn’t cut it, and “lock and vault” procedures aren’t a substitute for having two staff on hand when the situation calls for it.

In all, it doesn’t sound like management intends to take the steps necessary to mitigate the risks, but that is par for DeKalb’s course. Deficiencies from the 2019 audit, such as failure to assign a second person to review transactions and to reconcile bank statements timely, were not corrected in 2020. One deficiency that was corrected in 2020, that of water rates billed that did not match the rates authorized by ordinance, was originally identified during the 2018 audit.

Management is careless with our money and the record shows it. City council is either clueless or doesn’t care.

Related: DeKalb’s Finance Division is a story of loss and low priority.