City of Goliad needs better fraud protection
March 23, 2014 at 3:04 p.m.
Updated March 22, 2014 at 10:23 p.m.
Editor, the Advocate:
Your recent story about fraud in the utilities billing/collection of the city of Goliad reminded me of reading four years of reports in which the auditor recommended a post office mailbox to deter fraud. I quote from the letter to the council of May 24, 2013:
"We recommend that management consider establishing a fraud hotline with a third-party service provider. Alternatively, the city could obtain a post office box to be used by city employees to report fraud anonymously. The post office box should be checked periodically by an individual not employed by the city (e.g., an appointed City Council member). The very existence of a formal anonymous avenue for reporting fraud would serve as a deterrent to misconduct by creating among employees a perception that fraud would be detected and reported. It would also demonstrate the city's serious intent to prevent and detect fraud. In addition, the hotline or post office box could also be used to report incidents of harassment, unsafe working conditions or violations of laws or regulations. This would allow the city to address such situations in a timely manner and could help prevent or minimize lawsuits, legal liability or adverse publicity by demonstrating that the city has procedures for receiving and addressing complaints. Employees should be made aware of the city fraud reporting program's availability and the reasons why they should use it."
This year, the auditor failed to mention this fraud control recommendation. I asked the auditor if the city had complied. After a sputter or two, the auditor said, "The city administrator said it was not cost-effective." The cost of a P. O. box is about $30. It certainly could have saved considerable legal expense and might have prevented the employee from having a criminal record. What does the Goliad City Council have against fraud? They sure can't plead cost control.
Everett Jacob, Goliad