Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not all happy with audit committee

A month after the Knox County Audit Committee recommended firing the county's longer-time internal auditor, one member resigned and another local leader publicly berated the panel's chairman.

Mary Kiser, in an often emotional speech during Tuesday's meeting, told the committee that she felt it unfairly suggested to the Knox County Commission the need to terminate Richard Walls.

Shortly after her announcement, Knox County Commissioner Mike Brown, who attended the meeting, accosted its chairman, Joe Carcello.

"I know crap when I see it and you're throwing some here, fella," said Brown, adding that he was "tired" of Carcello's "smug and smiling attitude."

The resignation and the heated discussion came a month after the committee in a 4-1 vote agreed to ask the County Commission to fire internal auditor Richard Walls. Committee members, led by Carcello, said Walls did not do anything illegal or inappropriate, but, rather, it was what he didn't do while performing his duties that made them want to replace him.

Officials called his work "limited" and said he only conducted three audits last year, a low amount for the money spent on the responsibilities. Committee members also said he should better focus on areas where the "county has the greatest risk," including the Trustee's Office, which has a recent history of wrongdoing.

The panel, which makes recommendations to the County Commission, is comprised of Carcello, a University of Tennessee accounting professor; Kiser, a manager for internal audit services at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and county commissioners Ed Shouse, Dave Wright and Amy Broyles.

Kiser, who's served on the committee since its inception five years ago, cast the dissenting vote to get rid of Walls. The County Commission, which oversees the county's internal audit department, will talk more about the recommendation during its Aug. 19 work session.

During Tuesday's meeting, Kiser said she was stepping down, but not before defending Walls and suggesting that the Audit Committee could have done more to guide his work.

She said the "overall" audits that he's conducted during the past half decade "have been satisfactory and some even more than satisfactory."

"I believe Richard, as a long-time county employee, has been treated unfairly," said Kiser, who represents the East Tennessee Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors on the committee. "He has uncovered fraud and identified controls that needed to be strengthened."

Click right smack here for the rest of the bad a$$ story.

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