Monday, February 8, 2010

Grand jury: Scrap county accountability position

Kern's grand jury wants the county administrative office to scrap its new ethics and accountability officer position -- but that won't be recommended.

And at least two county supervisors think it's a bad idea.

"Scrap the grand jury," said Supervisor Don Maben.

The Kern County grand jury said in a report released this week that auditor-controller staff and the CAO administrative analyst should do the work of the county compliance and accountability officer in question.

The Board of Supervisors created the job in September 2008 to address several ethics concerns, the last straw being revelations of lax cash controls, sloppy contract review and other ethical lapses under former Public Health Department Director B.A. Jinadu.

The county hired Carl Breining to do such things as ensure departments implement auditor-controller recommendations and do ethics training. County Administrative Officer John Nilon said Thursday the job has expanded to include, among other things, ensuring compliance with new federal legislation designed to keep health records confidential and tracking and reporting on the county spending of stimulus money.

Breining's salary is $75,981 a year; his benefits take him to $125,992, Nilon said.

Jurors didn't fully report on what Breining's doing, Nilon said.

"The grand jury did a nice job in its analysis and research but perhaps it was too centralized, didn't get the breadth and depth of the responsibilities of the position," he said.

Maben said without Breining's position, the county wouldn't know whether departments implemented audit recommendations for a year, when the next audit was done.

BY CHRISTINE BEDELL, Californian government editor | Thursday, Feb 04 2010 04:47 PM

Last Updated Thursday, Feb 04 2010 04:47 PM

"We need to make sure they're implemented now, not later," Maben said.

He and Supervisor Michael Rubio pointed out Breining s going to recommend management fixes at government insurance administrator Kern Health Systems.

The grand jury said the audit division of the auditor-controller's office has been beefed up since the accountability officer job was created and it's following up on audit recommendations "in a timely manner." In fact, it said, its personnel can do most of the compliance and accountability officer functions.

Jurors noted Kern Medical Center and the Public Health Department have compliance officers.

The county administrative office has 90 days to respond to the grand jury report. Nilon said his office will not recommend that the position be cut.

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