Miami auditor general reappointed, to undergo independent peer review
By Risa Polansky
Miami city commissioners voted last week to reinstate the watchdog responsible for ferreting out the details of its housing agency's flaws among other scandals — and Auditor General Victor Igwe may be audited during his four-year term.
While the commission, responsible for appointing an auditor every four years, did not officially vote to require a peer review of the investigator, he invited one.
"Peer reviews are voluntary," Mr. Igwe said. The most recent was in 1999, and "I think it's about time we had another one."
Commissioners approved a raise for Mr. Igwe in March — his first in four years, from $147,000 to about $171,000, he said — and his contract expired in May.
Though his fate with the city hung in the balance for months, raising the question of whether he'd be reinstated, the commission voted unanimously to renew Mr. Igwe's contract through 2011.
He'd put his office up against any other in the country, Mr. Igwe said, after recovering $10 million for the city and laying the groundwork for the indictment of at least five people during his eight-year tenure.
A peer review would be conducted by an external team of audit professionals.
City Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring said a review is "not a job evaluation of the auditor. It is a quality-control review to make sure the appropriate standards are being met."
Peer reviews, he said, are "industry practice" in CPA firms.
But, said Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, "let's suppose a peer review comes back terrible. Then what do we do?"
The city's legal staff advised commissioners that they could vote to suspend an auditor general for "just and reasonable cause" and poor review results could meet those standards.
The auditor general is one of three commission-appointed positions in Miami's government, thought the only one with a defined term of office.
The city clerk and city attorney are appointed after each municipal election.
Some commissioners suggested appointing the auditor along with the other two staffers.
"Let the voters decide," Commissioner Tomás Regalado said, pointing out that residents voted to create the position.
Commissioners agreed to direct legal staff to draft a city charter change aligning appointment of the auditor position with the clerk and attorney.
It could appear on a January ballot.