Guest opinion County leaders: We will watch your money closely |

Guest opinion County leaders: We will watch your money closely

Garfield County government is responsible to the citizens of Garfield County. One of our greatest responsibilities is the fiduciary duty pertaining to public funds entrusted to our care, funds that are from and for the benefit of our citizens.

We, as commissioners, clerk and recorder and county staff agree with the Post Independent’s editorial board that the risk of further theft of public funds should be minimized and that our systems of accounting must be continuously updated and improved.

Prudent stewardship of public resources is a focus point for the county management team. It is drafted into the county administration’s mission statement, read aloud and reviewed monthly.

Garfield County government is a professional workplace for nearly 500 employees, who strive every day to provide courteous and honest service to the citizens of the county. It is unarguable that the recent alleged theft of public funds is a serious and distressing breach of trust.

On a daily basis, we continue to examine the control environment countywide, identify and assess fraud risks, and design and implement procedures to mitigate those risks. In this case, internal controls were in operation, but they were manipulated.

Ultimately, internal controls uncovered the recent alleged theft. Upon its discovery, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office took appropriate, expedient investigative action and implemented strengthened controls immediately to address the specific areas of concern. The matter was referred immediately to law enforcement for further investigation and criminal prosecution.

The county is working with its insurer, County Technical Services Inc. (CTSI), regarding a claim for this insured loss due to theft.

The county has hired an independent accounting and financial controls expert, CBS Accounting, to assess and review thoroughly the cash-handling procedures of the targeted account and to provide recommendations for improvement. This work is near completion, and we will implement suggestions for improved accounting methods immediately.

We are cooperating with law enforcement, and state and local investigators in an active criminal investigation to provide a full accounting of the incident. We must now allow the legal process to run its course regarding this criminal matter and its lawful consequences.

Garfield County employees dedicate more than a million hours each year to serving the community with honesty and hard work. While developing better controls, we also support their trustworthy efforts, regardless of whether they work for elected officials or their administrative departments. We define our roles through the lens of continuous improvement and will always seek to mitigate loss through prevention and oversight, and with professionalism and conviction.

— Garfield County commissioners, clerk and recorder, county manager and county staff

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