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City Council

The People's Business: July 21, 2020

This week's regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council's Environment Committee has been adjourned, which is a fancy word for "canceled" -- but don't despair! The Audit Committee and the Rules Committee are both meeting tomorrow. Today's post summarizes their agendas. (Read about the Council's policy committees.)

Remember, if you'd like more detail on anything summarized here, click the agenda, then click on the item. Over on the right side of the page, you'll see links to a staff report and other pieces of supporting material.

Rules Committee -- Wednesday, July 22

The Rules Committee, chaired by Council President Georgette Gómez, starts at 2 p.m., and there's just one item on the agenda -- a proposal to establish a Privacy Advisory Commission

Surveillance camera illustrationIn January, the City's Sustainability Department, which runs the city's Smart Streetlights program, presented to the Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee (PS&LN) a draft policy on use of the data captured by the smart streetlights. The committee rejected that proposal and directed the City Attorney's office to work with committee staff on a new proposal. Last week, the Trust SD Coalition presented a new proposal to the PS&LN Committee, which included the creation of a Privacy Advisory Commission to advise City officials on residents' privacy rights when new technologies that collect personal data are purchased and deployed. 

On Wednesday, the Rules Committee will weigh on the Privacy Commission idea.

Audit Committee -- Wednesday, July 22

The Audit Committee, chaired by Councilmember Scott Sherman, meets at 9 a.m. There are six items on the agenda, highlighted by a follow-up audit of the City's Public Utilities Department’s Industrial Wastewater Control Program (IWCP).

Back in 2013, the City Auditor investigated the IWCP, which permits, monitors, and inspects a variety of industries across the City and to limit the discharge of toxic substances into the sewers. That investigation found some issues with outdated fees, billing lapses, and cost-recovery problems. 

Well, the Auditor has completed a follow-up audit that found that "while some progress has been made, the issues we identified in 2013 remain largely unaddressed." It also found an additional concern: "City wastewater customers alone are subsidizing program costs, even though the program serves customers in the larger metro area...."

The follow-up report makes two findings:

  • The Public Utilities Department has not adjusted many IWCP permit fees since 1984, and its cost recovery practices remain out of compliance with City cost recovery policies and potentially violate state law.
  • Billing lapses have reoccurred due to overly complex and inefficient processes and a breakdown in oversight.

To address these issues, the report makes nine recommendations. On Wednesday, the Auditor's team will present the issues and the recommendations to the committee.

Here's the rest of the agenda:

  • Quarterly Fraud Hotline Activity Report: The City has a hotline for employees and residents to confidentially report suspected instances of fraud, abuse, or waste, and each quarter, the Auditor provides a rundown of how these cases have been addressed. This is that.

Person on the phoneBetween April and June of 2020, 48 calls came in. Of those, 28 were deemed within the purview of the Fraud Hotline. Twenty-one of those were referred to various City departments for investigation and seven were investigated by the City Auditor. Meanwhile, 80 matters from previous quarters were still open as of the end of March 2020. Between April and June, 59 matters were resolved or closed. Of those, eight were found to be substantiated, and in another six, corrective action was taken. In its presentation to the committee, the Auditor's office will detail the substantiated allegations and the actions taken. 

  • Citywide Risk Assessment and Audit Work Plan: This is the City Auditor's annual plan for what departments, programs, and funds the office will audit in the coming fiscal year (July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021). The plan is a product of a data-driven risk assessment as well as feedback from the City Hall community. There are 22 audits in the plan, including look-sees into the Police Department's community policing efforts, program equity in the Parks and Recreation Department, CARES Act compliance controls, and due diligence in Real Estate Assets acquisitions.
  • IT Risk Assessment and Audit Work Plan: Similar to the previous item, this is the City Auditor's plan to look into the City’s significant information technology systems and processes. In addition to two carry-over audits from last year, the plan includes examinations of the City's IT procurement and vendor management process and the Fire Department’s emergency response management system.
  • City Auditor Recruitment Update: The City hasn't had a permanent Auditor since Eduardo Luna resigned in September 2018. Interim City Auditor Kyle Elser has been holding down the fort in the meantime. A search for a permanent Auditor is underway. The committee will get an update on how that's going.
  • City Auditor’s Monthly Activity Report: Self-explanatory. This item is on the agenda every month.

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Only City staff and credentialed members of the press may attend these meetings in person. However, anyone can participate and make comments by dialing 619-541-6310 and entering the access code 877861 followed by # when the item you're interested in comes up (PDF icon full call-in instructions). Watch the meetings on cable TV channel 24 or AT&T channel 99, or stream it online.

Next up will be a post on the full City Council meeting of July 28.


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