Variety may be the spice of life, but, when it comes to choosing an auditor for Guilford County government each year, the county commissioners never want to change a thing. 

On Thursday, April 1, the Board of Commissioners is expected to enter into a contract with Cherry Bekaert LLP – the same firm the county has selected to audit its books for years and years.

The relationship goes back to at least 2004, when the firm was named Cherry, Bekaert & Holland LLP.

Every few years, in the Guilford County Audit Committee meetings – one or more of the commissioners will express the opinion that it might be beneficial to change auditing firms so the process doesn’t become stale.

However, each year, the firm selected always ends up being Cherry Bekaert LLP.  The commissioners seem happy with the price of the contract and the work of the firm, though some best-practices experts argue that local governments – and non-profits and businesses as well – should change auditors periodically since a fresh set of eyes might be able to find some overlooked problems. 

The contract slated for approval this week calls for Guilford County to pay the Raleigh-based firm $99,750 for an audit of the county’s books for the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2021.  The company will work with the county’s Internal Audit Department and could be paid additional money if a deeper than expected dive is required.

Each year, the audit of Guilford County’s books turns up some problems. However, for the most part, they are relatively minor concerns, such as a Department of Social Services worker not gathering the complete set of required documentation before allowing a social services beneficiary to be given benefits. 

When Cherry Bekaert finds more serious issues, the Guilford County Audit Committee typically goes into closed session to discuss the matter.  For instance, in June 2020, and in March 2021, the Audit Committee went into closed session immediately after calling the meeting to order.  In those cases, county officials have not revealed what was discussed.

Personnel matters are protected by state privacy laws, which constitute an exception to the state’s open meetings laws.