A state agency that oversees the financial actions of local governments has called Guilford County to the woodshed for turning in its annual audit information late as well as for some issues revealed in that audit.
In a carefully crafted response to the State and Local Government Finance Division of the Local Government Commission (LGC), Guilford County officials offered reasons why the county was late with information for the new audit for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2021 – and they also gave details as to how the county will do better in the future with its financial oversight and reporting.
A letter signed by a majority of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners sent to the LGC states why the county submitted its financial audit late and offers reasons for “the significant deficiency noted in the Schedule of Findings and Questioned Costs.”
The LGC is a state agency that oversees the financial actions of local governments in North Carolina to assure that those governments remain financially healthy. The agency reviews county audits each year, and also by law has to, for instance, sign off before counties can make bond offerings.
In the letter, Guilford County officials stated the county was unable to provide financial information to the audit firm by the filing deadline due to additional responsibilities and challenges last year. Those listed were:
- challenges from a new “enterprise resource planning” software system
- the burden of administering COVID-19 programs relief programs
- personnel turnover and staffing shortages
To help see that the county doesn’t file late again, county officials promised to increase staff capacity to meet the financial administration and documentation requirements of COVID-19 relief programs in a timely manner. It also agreed to use additional “surge” staff capacity for the Guilford County Finance Department.
In addition, the county is currently attempting to hire more full-time finance staff.
The “Schedule of Finding and Questioned Cost” included a “significant deficiency.” The LGC had noted that the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services didn’t properly complete some required reviews in maternity and family planning programs.
The letter from Guilford County officials states that the county’s Health Division has been focused on COVID-19 response, and department resources were reallocated to those COVID-19 efforts. County officials also stated in the letter that the county’s Health Division meets and exceeds state requirements when it comes to performing annual audits of the eligibility activities related to maternity and family planning.
The county’s letter to the LGC noted: “The Department performed an appropriate number of reviews given the available resources. Public Health will update the review schedule to better reflect the review standards going forward.”