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  • Thursday, November 10, 2005



    The OC Blog posted the entirety of the OC Register's editorial on the Orange County Sanitation District's internal audit of the New Age Consultant flap. The editorial praised City of Orange OCSD representative Councilwoman Carolyn Cavecche for her motion to make the audit public.

    OC Blog POST WED 11/09/05
    (FOR ALL OC BLOG postings Click on: LINK)

    The OC Register ran an excellent editorial yesterday on the results of an auditor's report on the Orange County Sanitation District (which the OCSD initially tried to keep from the public):

    Money Down The Sewer

    Based on an audit performed by a private consulting firm on behalf of the Orange County Sanitation District, it's clear that the sanitation district's board of directors was correct in accepting General Manager Blake Anderson's resignation in response to Mr. Anderson's expenditures on behalf of a New Age consulting guru.

    Mr. Anderson resigned last month, receiving a severance package of six months of salary.

    Mr. Anderson had argued that he was only trying to improve management techniques at the district when he hired Dharma Consulting, and he disputed claims that he was imposing a religious view on the district by dealing with a firm led by a self-described yoga priest.

    The potential religious angle raised concerns of board members and local politicians, especially after the Register reported in July about the contract. But that, ultimately, is a management policy issue. The audit conducted by Newport Beach-based Moreland & Associates deals with finances.

    The auditors came to six conclusions, all critical of Mr. Anderson and the sanitation distric. Here are summaries of what the audit, obtained through a California Public Records Act request, showed:

    "The General Manager exceeded his delegated spending authority by spending a total of $192,175 on Dharma consulting between February of 2002 and May of 2004. The applicable purchasing resolutions limit the General Manager's spending authority to $100,000 in the aggregate on any single vendor contract. ...

    "The General Manager exceeded his authority to enter into a sole source contract ... .

    "The General Manager failed to file a sole source justification with the Purchasing Department as required ... . Thus, in violation of Finance Department Policy, the Dharma services were purchased without any explanation of the services being purchased ... .

    "The General Manager improperly utilized the 'Payment Request Voucher' process ... . As a consequence, the Purchasing Department was not notified of the payments, and no report of the pay- ments was filed with the Board ... ."

    The auditors also found that Mr. Anderson failed to follow procedures for issuing a purchase order, and that the district "exceeded the Board-approved amount of $135,000 by $17,581.41 ... ."

    The district conducted two audits, the Moreland audit referred to here and a separate personnel audit of Mr. Anderson's management abilities. At first the district would not release either one, despite a motion by board member Carolyn Cavecche (backed by members Mike Duvall and Harry Sidhu), but released the financial audit after our request.

    Most of the personnel audit has been withheld because it deals with personnel issues, which are protected under the records act.

    At least the public knows that the board was right to treat this matter seriously and to allow Mr. Anderson to resign, although it is unfortunate the board found it necessary to sebnd him off with six months' salary in severance pay.

    The board needs to pay more careful attention to spending, and other boards should follow suit.

    Kudos to Cavecche, Duvall and Sidhu for favoring immediate public disclosure of the audit.

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