Find out what's going on at the Denver Auditor's Office.
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Prevailing Wage Ordinance 

O'Brien Prevails on Improvements to Wage Enforcement

Over the last eight months, Auditor O’Brien has led an effort to rewrite Denver’s 66-year-old prevailing wage law.  “Auditor O’Brien is a natural problem solver,” said Jeffrey A. Garcia, Esq., who oversees prevailing wage enforcement and serves as the Auditor’s Director of Contracts and Accountability.  “He began by holding meetings with all the stakeholders – employers, contractors, union leaders, contract managers and others who deal with prevailing wage – to gather information about where the prevailing wage ordinance was and wasn’t working.”

The revised ordinance was passed unanimously this month by City Council and goes into effect January 1, 2017. The ordinance clarifies where prevailing wage applies, beefs up the penalties for willful non-compliance, establishes a dispute resolution process, simplifies previously complicated procedures, and changes the City’s debarment panel to make it more effective.  

“Prevailing wage prevents a ‘race to the bottom’ in wages.  Contractors have to compete on quality and efficiency, not on who can pay their workers the least,” said Howard Arnold, Business Manager for Pipefitters Local 208.  “It also keeps the government from skewing the entire local wage scale because the largest construction projects are usually public works funded by the government.” 

“Continuing the working group as an ongoing advisory body to the Auditor gives us a forum for resolving issues and making sure prevailing wage enforcement is both fair and effective,” said Taryn Edwards, Saunders Senior Vice-President and veteran of many large Denver construction projects. 

City Council Committee meeting on Prevailing Wage ordinance put forward by Auditor O'Brien.

November Audits: Fire Department and the Airport

There were two audit reports released this month: Resource Allocation Practices at Denver’s Fire Department, and Airline Agreements at Denver International Airport.
The audit of the Denver Fire Department recommends more robust long-term decision-making to anticipate the city’s changing dynamics and the future resource needs of the department. The primary concern is Denver’s population growth, especially in developing areas, and the pressure this puts on departmental resources. The audit team’s analysis of calls for service shows that the total number of calls has increased from about 80,000 in 2006 to more than 107,000 in 2015, a 34% increase. Also, a coverage gap continues to exist in northeast Denver compared to the rest of Denver.

Airlines pay for landing fees, gate usage, passenger facility charges, and space within the airport itself through agreements with DIA. In 2015 DIA reported over $874 million in revenue, of which half is generated by these airlines agreements. The audit found that DIA’s weaknesses in contract administration may mean that not all the revenue due from the airlines is being collected. 
I'm Timothy M. O'Brien, CPA, Denver's independently elected auditor. My office serves as a check and balance on Denver's "strong mayor" government. I am a licensed CPA and have a MBA from the University of Colorado. With over 40 years of auditing and accounting experience, I have produced more than 750 financial and performance audits.

Interns at the Auditor’s Office 

One of Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien’s goals in running for Auditor was to strengthen the interaction between the Auditor’s Office and the local auditing and accounting community.  Professor Lorenzo Patelli of DU’s Daniels School of Business saw an opportunity that would benefit both the students in his Corporate Advising course and the Auditor’s Office. Patelli’s four students worked with the Auditor’s Office and two other City departments to create an internal risk assessment questionnaire, which can be used by other departments to self-diagnose risk without going through a full audit process.

“It dovetailed perfectly with my desire to build relationships with local colleges and universities, and create opportunities for recent graduates in our department,” said O’Brien, a Certified Public Accountant himself. The students were able to put their technical skills to use while learning soft skills, such as teamwork and communication, they’ll need on the job.

This fall, staff from the Auditor’s Office have attended seven college career fairs, talking to almost 200 students about the role of Denver’s Auditor and available positions.

The Auditor's Office has been leaving no stone unturned in recruitment efforts, including radio ads on Jammin' 101.5 and Flo 107.1, which made a cake decorated with our hompage image.

Audit Services Profile: Yvonne Harris-Lott

“By nature I’m definitely the idealist,” says Audit Supervisor Yvonne Harris-Lott about herself. “Generally speaking, I’m a very trusting person.” But as she got into internal auditing, she learned that evidence is needed to support statements. The Southern California native came to school at the University of Denver, where her trusting nature got her sneakers stolen after cheerleading at a basketball game. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science and Bachelor’s of Administration in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.
She started in accounting at TCI (the forerunner to Comcast) for 13 years, and then went into auditing at PWC, a professional services firm, where she worked for over a year. Her previous experience uncovering fraud leads her to believe there are three types of people who commit fraud. First, good people in bad situations who take advantage of an opportunity. Second, people with an ax to grind who are trying to get even. And last, people who think it’s a game.
Yvonne started with the City this past seven months in her first government job. She’s glad to have transitioned from accounting to auditing because she enjoys being able to see a process in its entirety and offer help for an organization to succeed. She is currently working on the Office of Sustainability audit, scheduled for publication in December 2016.

Calls for Denver Fire Department Service

Source: City and County of Denver Auditor’s Office analysis of Denver Fire Department and U.S. Census data. Of note, population figures include the total population covered by the Denver Fire Department, including in Glendale, Sheridan, and Englewood through intergovernmental agreements.

Rescue and emergency service calls are more frequent than fire-related calls, accounting for 70% of all calls in 2015. Rescue and emergency service calls increased by 41% between 2006 and 2015, while fire-related calls decreased by 30% over the same time period. Fire-related calls accounted for 1.7% of all calls in 2015.

Potpourri from around the City . . . 

To restore, replace, and expand infrastructure and capital assets across the city, Denver will be issuing general obligation (GO) bonds, a debt obligation payable from dedicated property mill levies. The last GO bonds were for the Better Denver Bond Program in 2007 for $550 million. The next round of GO bonds are scheduled to go to voters in November 2017, and the amount will be finalized this spring after public input. Spending will be influenced by Elevate 2020, Denver’s 2015-2020 capital improvement plan. Only city-owned assets and “shovel-ready” projects are eligible for GO bond funding.
Give your input on priorities for bond funding now!