By Lookout Staff
June 5, 2009 -- During tough economic times, the City of Santa Monica has hired a new internal audit manager to watch its money and help make its operations more efficient, City officials announced Thursday.
Marty Kolkin – who made headlines last year when he uncovered major problems with Sacramento's Department of Utilities as the City's auditor – took over the post Monday after he was tapped following a nationwide search, officials said.
“During these challenging economic times, it’s especially important to protect our assets and maintain healthy fiscal monitoring practices,” said Carol Swindell, the City’s director of finance.
“Marty has the right experience to assist our City departments in evaluating their internal and administrative controls and reviewing operational efficiencies,” Swindell said.
Kolkin was highly regarded in Sacramento and was praised by City Council members for his work, although one council member leveled criticism, calling him a “company man,” according to an April 21 article in the Sacramento Press.
The comments came at a time when the council was engaged in an effort to have the auditor report to the council instead of the City manager, according to the report.
Last year, Kolkin’s made headlines when his audit of Sacramento's beleaguered Department of Utilities found $1.3 million in missing meters and “revealed a host of problems, including failure to follow competitive bidding procedures,” according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.
The audit, according to the July 23, 2008 article, also found “questionable debit charges by employees -- an $808 binge at JR's Texas BBQ and a ‘custom retirement plaque’ for $1,428 among the purchases.”
As Santa Monica’s internal audit manager, Kolkin will oversee the operations and activities of the Internal Audit Division, which “conducts citywide internal control system assessments of municipal business practices to ensure the safeguarding of public assets,” officials said in a statement Thursday.
Kolkin will consult with staff to “develop adequate systems of administrative and internal controls to mitigate risk” and will conduct internal financial and program audits of City operations.
As City Auditor for Sacramento, Kolkin identified and recommended solutions to “material weaknesses in internal controls in a number of key areas,” Santa Monica officials said.
He directed the internal audit program for the City, which as a $966 million operating budget and 5,300 employees. Santa Monica’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $510 million; the City has some 2,000 employees. (“Proposed $510 Million Budget Maintains Services, Avoids Layoffs,” May 27, 2009)
Santa Monica City Manger Lamont Ewell has vowed to find inefficiencies in local government and to ferret out cheats.
In April, three Big Blue Bus employees were arrested after a random audit found evidence they were stealing from Santa Monica’s Rideshare program, which offers free passes to City workers who take public transportation to their jobs. (“Internal Audit Nabs Three Santa Monica Bus Employees,” April 16, 2009)
Before joining the City of Sacramento, Kolkin served as the County Auditor for Johnson County in Kansas and was the City Auditor for the City of Olathe in Kansas. In addition, he has worked as a budget manager for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. and as a senior auditor for Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Kolkin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Avila University and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Government Financial Manager, Certified Business Manager and a Certified Internal Controls Auditor.