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Integrity in law enforcement is paramount in obtaining the public trust. The public value of any law enforcement agency is providing fair, honest and professional service to the community it serves. This includes an entity that is accessible and transparent to the citizenry. Once the public trust is violated, the effectiveness of that agency is greatly diminished. Many law enforcement agencies in the United States have violated the public trust and as a result have been subjected to litigation. The outcome has been relegating these organizations to consent decrees or negotiated settlement agreements (NSA). Other law enforcement agencies for fear of litigation, public outcry for police reform or to improve their organization have also sought early warning solutions to monitor their operations. As a result, these law enforcement agencies have established auditing entities to conduct audits of their organizational operations for compliance or performance reporting. The problem lies on how these organizations will develop, implement and operate an auditing entity that will provide accessible, reliable and transparent findings to its organization.
While establishing these internal auditing entities is commendable to those law enforcement agencies that have implemented them, the questions asked, are they structured, are they following auditing standards and most important, are they independent? The theoretical framework for instituting an efficient and effective means of internally auditing a law enforcement organization will be addressed in this section.
The Theoretical Model
The purpose of the Law Enforcement Performance Auditing Entity model is to provide an organizational structure to an agency's internal auditing entity to report fair, accurate, unbiased and factual findings through the audit process. The importance of independence must be addressed, because without it, auditors are not free to report factual findings for fear of reprisal or worst termination (Bronson, Carcello, Hollingsworth, & Neal, 2009).
The Law Enforcement Performance Auditing Entity model is divided into two-parts. The first part outlines the hierarchal position the entity has within the organization. The second part outlines the entities own organizational structure. The model is based on organizational theory.
The Audit Entity's Hierarchal Position Within the Organization
The placement of the hierarchal position of the law enforcement performance audit entity within the organization is very important for organizational independence. The auditing entity must be free of any influences regarding its audit processes, findings and recommendations (Comptroller General Of The United States, 2007; Spira, 1999).
The auditing entity under the direction of the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) must report directly to the overseeing department entity (ODE). An example of an ODE would be a police commission, director of public safety, city manager, etc. The CAE also has reporting responsibility to an audit committee that is within the line of command (see Figure 1). The audit committee should consist of the ODE Representative (Chairperson), Mayor's (City Manager's) Representative, Chief of Police, Legislative Representative (e. g. city council, board of supervisors) and the CAE (see Figure 2). The chief of police does not have any direct supervision over the CAE and only functional supervision through the audit committee. With this type of organizational reporting structure and the audit committee, the law enforcement performance auditing entity has audit independence.
The Audit Entity's Organizational Structure
The audit entity's organizational structure is hierarchal with the CAE as the entity head. The second in authority is the Assistant Audit Executive (AAE), who also has direct supervision over the administrative section. The audit entity is comprised of three sections, the audit section, the administrative section and the quality control/risk assessment section. Each is under the direction of a section manager. Within the audit section is an audit team or teams depending on the organizational workload. A project manager supervises each team. The team consists of an audit consultant and staff auditors.
The complement of the audit entity is determine by the law enforcement's organizational size, the number of auditors assigned and its workload. The model is designed for large and medium size law enforcement agencies.
The following diagrams illustrate the theoretical model for an internal law enforcement performance auditing entity.
Figure 1 Law Enforcement Performance Auditing Theoretical Model hierarchal position in the organization.
Figure 2 Law Enforcement Performance Auditing Theoretical Model organizational structure.
The theoretical framework for the law enforcement performance auditing entity model is based on organizational theory. The auditing entity derives its powers and authority through the ODE and an audit charter, or other means as provided by the governing body. It is a hierarchal organization with an established chain of command. The audit entity follows a classical and neo-classical organizational theory structure. The neo-classical theory domain is mimicked with each section within the audit entity structure. Each section has its own division of labor in the hierarchal structure and it is responsible for a specific span and control of personnel. Also within the structure are divisions of work that spans horizontally across all the other sections within the organizational structure.
The audit entity staff is comprised under two categories that are sworn peace officers and civilian auditors. The sworn employees are peace officers of supervisory rank. They are empowered by the governing state statues to make arrests. Civilian employees are hired to provide a supporting role within the organization. They have no special powers of arrest. Within the audit entity, the sworn personnel are consultants responsible for providing technical advice to the civilian auditors. They are also part of the audit team and as a result, also conduct audits. Civilian auditors provide auditing expertise and are the primary reviewers within the audit engagement.
The audit team consists of a minimum of one audit consultant and two staff auditors. Project managers are civilian auditors responsible for an assigned audit project and supervise their assigned team. This person has auditing experience with audit certifications. Section managers are responsible for one or more audit teams depending on the size and workload of the organization. Audit teams may be structured by specialty type audits or general audits.
Other sections include administrative and quality assurance/risk assessment responsibilities. The administrative section is staffed with clerk typists and analyst responsible for the daily operations of the entity. Included within the administrative section, is the training unit. The training unit is responsible for monitoring and providing training to all assigned personnel. This unit is staffed with civilian auditors and sworn consultants. The quality assurance/risk assessment section is responsible for reviewing all audit reports for construction and factuality. They are also responsible for assessing risk within the law enforcement organization and making recommendation on the types of audits to be conducted. They also assist in developing an annual audit plan.
The AAE is the second in authority and also has functional supervision over the administrative section. He or she assumes dominion of the audit entity when the CAE is absent from his or her duties. This position is staffed by a sworn peace officer of lieutenant or captain rank depending on organizational size.
The CAE is the executive head of the audit entity and has primary responsibility for all personnel assigned. The position should be a civilian with auditing and management experience. His or her experience must also include auditing certifications and a college degree. The CAE reports directly to the ODE and the audit committee.
The purpose of the audit committee is to serve as an external link between management and the audit entity. The audit committee is comprised of outside directors and under the law enforcement performance auditing entity model, the members are representatives from various governmental bodies within the jurisdiction (see Figure 1). The duties of the audit committee are to (1) oversee the audit function, (2) enhance auditor independence, (3) establish greater independence and objectivity within the audit process and reporting, (4) be responsible for the hiring, promotion and compensation of the CAE. The audit committee also oversees the functions of the audit entity and approve the following; (1) audit policies, (2) standards and (3) procedures (Ratliff, Wallace, Loebbecke, & Mcfarland, 1988). The formation of the audit committee should be established through an audit charter defining their responsibilities and authority (Sawyer, Dittenhofer, Scheiner, Graham, & Makosz, 2003).
The CAE as the executive manager of the audit entity is ultimately accountable for the actions of the organization. All audit findings are his or her responsibility, so they must be sufficient and appropriate (Comptroller General Of The United States, 2007), because the success and transparency of the whole organization is incumbent on them. The CAE must combine politics with administration in order to be successful. According to Specian (2007), Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick argued that there was no dichotomy between the two and that they were impossible to separate. The CAE's responsibilities are defined by Gulick's principles of analyzing management activities that he introduced as planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating reporting and budgeting (POSDCORB) (Specian, 2007). Every aspect of the law enforcement performance auditing entity model is based on POSDCORB.
The nature of the tasks facing the audit entity is many. Its primary responsibility is to report findings and recommendations to the organization. Many organizations view the auditing function as "bean counting" and believe it serves no purpose. But the importance of auditing systems is to improve the organization, which is a vital link to its success and obtaining the public trust. Early warning systems provide a service to the organization by identifying "wicked problems" before they manifest themselves.
Problems with personnel are another task facing the CAE. He or she has to transact with problem employees through the disciplinary process, but ensure that their rights are not violated. Disciplinary problems come in different forms. They can occur on or off-duty. Dispatching supervisory personnel to these incidents and conducting thorough and impartial investigations becomes an important concern for the CAE. The welfare and fair treatment of employees is important in any organization.
Budgetary concerns are another matter for the CAE. The purchase of equipment, overtime, training expenses, maintenance of equipment and clerical supplies are just a few of the budget items the CAE has to contend with. Due to reduction of federal and state funds, budgetary cuts must be made during these hard economic times. These concerns are especially important during the development and implementation phases of an audit entity. All of these tasks require extensive planning, which is accomplished by the CAE and his or her management staff.
Leadership plays an important role in public safety. Effective Leadership Principles, (Los Angeles Police Department, 2001) cites N. F. Iannone definition of leadership as,
"...the art of influencing, directing, guiding & controlling others in such a way as to obtain their willing obedience, confidence, respect & loyal cooperation in the accomplishment of an objective". Iannone also says, "It is human factor, which binds the group together & motivates it toward goals. Leadership is truly an art. It embodies a set of basic principles, the application of which facilitates human endeavor. It involves more than just a grant of authority."
What people seek in leadership is for someone to lead the way. They seek goals and values that are worthwhile to them and the organization. Outstanding leadership skills can make a difference by providing vision, inspiration, motivation and direction. A true leader will attract people and inspire them to put forth incredible efforts for a common cause. There is a common belief that many institutions are well managed, but that there is poor leadership among its managers (Los Angeles Police Department, 2001).
As a bureaucrat, the CAE must integrate politics and administration to accomplish his or her goals. The CAE must utilizes the seven bases of social power to influence, persuade or demand full participation in accomplishing the entity's goals from his or her subordinates. Effective Leadership Principles (Los Angeles Police Department, 2001) defines the bases of social power as follows:
Reward Power; and,
Connection Power; and,
Within Positional Power, the CAE utilizes his or her legitimate power through the authority as the executive manager. The CAE draws on reward power by promoting individuals through commendations, thus rewarding them for their hard work and support. He or her uses coercive power with the management staff whereby those who do not pursue the agenda and goals are coerced to a degree of demotion or forced retirement.
Within personal power, the CAE also exercises expert power through the auditing and managerial knowledge, and experience he or she has accomplished through the years. He or she also avails them self of the expert power of those individuals within the organization. The CAE must also make use of information, connection and referent power. This is accomplished by constantly being briefed by support staff and thus is able to make informed decisions.
Rudolph and Welker (1998) argue that, "Successful coalescence depends on informative communications within the team." This statement is absolutely true because communications within an organization is significantly important. It starts with the assemblage of the audit team, which is part of the hierarchical structure, for the purpose of conducting an audit engagement. There must be a standardized approach in preparing the team for the engagement. Rudolph and Welker suggest that the best approach is to (1) standardize and program the team's activities, (2) the decision-making process is relegated to those of higher authority within the team and the entity, and (3) have restrictions on the ability to make changes. They also communicate that there are four criteria that must be addressed for successful quality and quantity of information exchange within the audit team. Rudolph and Welker identify them as information overload, boundary spanning, satisfaction with supervision and accuracy of the information.
Too much information can be problematic if absorbed all at once. Good organizational skills solve this problem. Boundary spanning involves communications with outside sources. Communicating with the right individuals can be of great assistance, especially if it is technical in nature. The use of the audit consult is crucial during the engagement process. Satisfaction with supervisors is keeping them abreast of the process and insuring that serious anomalies or exceptions are brought to their attention. Accuracy of information is import because audit findings and recommendations are based on them. The quality and quantity of the audit is dependent on it (Rudolph & Welker, 1998).
There are other forms of communications within the entity. Those involve communications with other entities within the law enforcement organization. Auditors may be called to provide consultation with individuals or entities that pose questions regarding audits and findings. Entrance and exit meetings with the auditee must be accomplished to inform them of the audit process or to address audit findings.
There are also unofficial forms of communication that involve employees communicating with each other during off-duty activities. This includes events that will be presented by the entity, like retirement or holiday parties. Also, unions communicate with its members through newsletters and a monthly newspaper.
Rumors are one of the most destructive forms of communications. Employees usually start them. Rumors may be fact or fiction, but it is the method of communication that is strongly discouraged by the organization. The management staff of the auditing entity must take a strong stance on rumor control and discipline employees for propagating false rumors. Rumors have ruined many careers and the reputation of employees. These forms of communication are constituents of Human Relations Theory.
Sawyer et al. (2003) define audit independence as, "Independence is the freedom from significant conflicts of interest that threaten objectivity. Such threats to objectivity must be managed at the individual auditor level, the engagement level, and the organizational level." Auditors must be able to carry out their duties freely and objectively during the audit engagement process. Freely means that the auditor carries out his or her duties without outside interference from management and others. Objectively means the auditors do not have emotional or mental attachments to the auditee. Independence also allows the auditor to render impartial and unbiased judgments during the audit engagement. Ratliff et al. (1988) identify two conditions necessary to protect auditor independence; they are (1) organizational status and (2) auditor objectivity. The status of the organization is dependent on its reputation. If the organization is recognized for fair, unbiased and transparent report, then the public trust is maintained. Auditor objectivity is a major component of the audit process. Again, the purpose of the audit process is to improve the organization and with fair and unbiased findings, this goal can be achieved.
The law enforcement performance auditing entity model provides an efficient and effective means of instituting the internal auditing process in a law enforcement organization. The independence established by this model allows internal auditors to perform their duties without undue influence to their findings. After all, the public value of any law enforcement agency is providing fair, honest and professional service to the community it serves. With this, the public can trust those who have sworn to protect and serve them.