Should Misdeeds Uncovered by Internal Audits Be Made Public?

McHenry County Auditor Pam Palmer is again hesitant to share misdeeds of others with the public.

The first time around it was an audit of the Nunda Township Senior Bus program.

I had to ask Nunda Township for a copy of it and that was not supplied until I filed an appeal with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

(I never published what I got, because the township gave it to the Northwest Herald before it sent it to me. It was apparently newsworthy, because it ended up on the NWH’s front page.)

The bus audit had been discussed with the County Board, however.

I thought the philosophy of the County Auditor seemed to be that the public should not be allowed to see anything that would show government operating improperly.

But she sent me this follow-up email after the letter of denial of my Freedom of Information request for the latest internal audit, which you can read below:

Pam Palmer

Pam Palmer

“I am trying to work with the Finance and Audit Committee to establish a process for the release of internal audits.

“This is something that some of the committee members have wanted to put into place.

“In addition, I have also been working with the State’s Attorney’s Office with questions to make sure that the process includes avenues for the various circumstances that could occur.

“This might take a meeting or two to work out yet.

“I am not opposed at all to transparency, just to ensure that a system is in place.”

I think taxpayers should be allowed to figure out who is to blame for such misdeeds.

This time around, I’m told the audit has to do with a dentist having double-billed for treating Veterans.

Posted last night accompanying the agenda for the Finance and Audit Committee meeting set for Thursday morning for 8:15 is evidence my sources were near the mark.

The proposal is entitled,

Resolution to Waive a Freedom of Information Act Exemption Relating to an Internal Audit on the Dental Care Clinic Fund

The following background is given in a memo:

“Finance and Audit Committee was presented preliminary findings by the County Auditor on an internal audit done on the McHenry County Dental Care Clinic Fund, a special revenue fund for the Department of Public Health.

“The findings showed irregularities between the Dental Health Care Clinic and a veteran’s grant received by the Veterans Assistance Commission providing dental services to indigent veterans.

“Some members of the Finance and Audit Committee have strong feelings that this information should be released and the County Auditor should turn over her working papers.

“The County Auditor’s stance is and has been this audit was done for the purpose of investigating improper use of grant and dental care clinic funds.”

Here is Palmer’s denial of my Freedom of Information request to see the audit:

Audit denist denial p1

Audit denist denial p12
Read the exemption cited:

“Communications between a public body and an attorney or auditor representing the public body that would not be subject to discover in litigation, and materials prepared or compiled by or for a public body in anticipation of a criminal, civil or administrative proceeding upon the request of an attorney advising the public body, and materials prepared or compiled with respect to internal auditor of public bodies.”

There is obviously smoke.

The following email from the Department of Health, where I filed another FOIA request suggests there is also fire:

“The health department does not have any of the records you are requesting, they were all forwarded to the State’s Attorney’s office last year.”


Comments

Should Misdeeds Uncovered by Internal Audits Be Made Public? — 11 Comments

  1. She needs an opponent for her next election, someone, anyone that is competent. Evidently, she is not.

  2. A possible alternative to incompetence may be an over abundance of caution.

    We live in Illinois, the land of corruption and zero tort reform.

    We also live under the principle “innocent until proven guilty”.

    There is also a feeling early release of information may jeopardize an investigation.

    Put all of these together and it is reasonable to think Pam is being overly cautious to protect the county from liability.

    This is an unfortunate circumstance, if it is true, as the lawyers have, once again, crushed freedom.

    There is a balance to be struck and making certain proper procedures are put in place to offer full and open disclosure while protecting the taxpayers from insane liability is prudent.

  3. She is deciding all by herself, to not respond to foia requests.

    That alone is scary.

    She is saying she is the law.

  4. Are these audits mandatory, or are the townships voluntarily requesting that they be audited?

    If it’s the latter, disclosure of the audit results would encourage townships to decline audit requests or to fight complying with them.

    I agree that there is a compelling public interest in seeing that mismanagement of funds is made public, but if the alternative is that township officials bury their heads in the sand and refuse the audit, I’m not sure I could agree with these results being made public.

    I’d rather that our township officials know where the money is going (and to be able to quietly work to fix it) than to refuse to find out where the money is going out of fear that it will reflect poorly on them. Incentives matter.

  5. I’d rather we just dissolve township government all together.

    What’s their real purpose?

    Seems like a lot of unnecessary duplication of services (and taxes) to me.

    That said, every public body that receives public funds should be audited and those files public!

  6. I understand the incompitance of the public which has time to slam, (criticize) the public officials such as you are doing forth here.

    Please educate yourself before you speak about others.

    Pam’s position is one of the most diffucult ones in any government.

    Long hours and putting up with all the rediculous political incompitant people she has to deal with is well enough stated fact.Enough for the facts, now look not only at yourself but you views are only nonfactual opionions.

    Please think before you speak,be positive with you life and make it a good reason, not excuse to live life as it was meant to be .

    A reason is a factual statement.

    An excuse is a weak point in your life!

    Now move forward and look at the factual waste in our government.

    Allow alot of time while you your tax summaries.Think about it,now it’s time to point fingers.

  7. My appology for the mistake on the parting comment on my previous comment,but it should have been as I stste now.

    ALLOW ALOT OF TIME WHILE YOU REVIEW YOUR TAX BILL SUMMARY’S.

    THINK ABOUT IT.

    NOW POINT FINGERS!

    Pam is doing an outstanding job and can be proven!

    Please use your time more effectively Look at what can be done to use our taxpayers money more efficiently,ask questions.

    A lot of questions.

    You will be amazed at the answers,or should I say excuses.

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