It turns out, a critical missing position essential to ensuring public safety and increased morale in the Sheriff's Department has little to do directly with a law enforcement function. Instead, delivery of those two objectives (and more) depends on the Sheriff's Department hiring a qualified, competent Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to develop an accurate $3 billion budget.
As we have documented in our prior blogs, CARP is a program which has decreased public safety and negatively affected the department in multiple ways. Those negative effects have been recognized by the Board of Supervisors, the department, and countless entities which contract for law enforcement services from the department. An influx of additional funds from the county allowed the department to report in July 2016 that
CARP had been eliminated
--only to see the department reinstate it months later due to a "suddenly discovered" significant budget shortfall. Once again, the inability of the department to properly budget had reared its ugly head.
Crafting an accurate budget for the department is not a new issue: audits of the department in 2003 and 2013 noted significant issues with the department's ability to budget, even when many of the projected costs were easily ascertainable. However, despite these problems, the position equivalent to a CFO was filled by a sworn law enforcement officer, not a professional with a deep background in finance and budgeting.
The role of a CFO is multifaceted. For example, in 1990 when the
Federal Government mandated
CFO's at 27 agencies, it noted these CFO's would "report directly to agency heads and oversee all financial management activities relating to agency programs and operations; ensure that financial management policies and internal controls were effective and that financial management systems produced information that was useful, reliable, and timely; and would need a background in financial management and accounting and must have demonstrated capability as influential financial management leaders, successful catalysts for bringing about change, and accomplished managers at the top levels of an organization
The attributes of a CFO, as described above, are sorely needed by the Sheriff's Department. In late 2016, Sheriff McDonnell announced that he was commencing a
to hire a CFO for the department. While we support this move, we note that whoever is hired will not be in place in time to help the department draft a budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year which begins July 1, 2017. It will be at least another fiscal year before a budget developed by a qualified CFO is in place.
CARP has proved to be a terrible "solution" for both public safety and the department. A qualified CFO should be able to allow the department to craft a budget which addresses that issue.