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Buffalo News Story on Comptroller's Office Reform

Mychajliw seeks reform of his office

One of the first targets of new County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw’s internal reviews turns out to be his own office.

The county’s just-inaugurated fiscal watchdog issued a report Monday that he called a “top to bottom, internal review of the Office of Erie County Comptroller.”

“I am going to root out inefficiency, waste and abuse across Erie County government,” Mychajliw said. “We took the high road and are leading by example by scrutinizing our own office first.”

Mychajliw’s review did not focus on individuals, but on the methods and practices of the Comptroller’s Office. He listed top concerns as:

• A certified public accountant has not served as deputy comptroller for audit since 2006 (though he did not list any such requirement for the post).

• The last documented annual audit plan took place in 1988.

• Fewer audits and reviews.

• Lack of performance evaluations and required continuing education.

• Depletion of audit staff over a long period of time.

• Lack of written policies and an outdated audit manual.

The comptroller said he has taken several steps to rectify the deficiencies identified in his own review. They include the hiring of Teresa Fraas as the new deputy comptroller for audit, a private sector CPA with 30 years of experience, who he said has now completed an audit plan for 2013.

Mychajliw also lamented a steady decrease in auditing positions within the office over many years, noting the presence of 23 in 1987 and only seven today, Overall, he pointed to 74 employees in the office in 1987 compared to 34 in 2013.

In addition, he wants to address the lack of succession planning to “maintain the long-term integrity of the office.” As a result, he said Gregory G. Gach, deputy comptroller for accounting/fiscal, will develop a formal succession plan and procedures to prepare lower-level accounting workers to step into higher positions.

While Republican Mychajliw’s review proved critical of the office’s past performance, he did not refer to the recent resignation of his own top former aide – Jeffrey Bochiechio. His chief of staff resigned Jan. 15 after pleading guilty last week to an October misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated in the Town of Machias.

Source: Buffalo News
Robert McCarthy
Published: 1/21/2013
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