Friday, January 9, 2009

Are you ready for the audit/oversight hearings in February and March?

Each year, the Council of the District of Columbia holds hearings following the CFO release of the CAFR* (the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report). The Council holds hearings for each District government agency and selected boards and commissions. The hearings provide an opportunity for the public to tell the Council and the agencies themselves what is going well and not so well. This year, the hearings will focus on what happened in FY 2008 and what is happening thus far in FY 2009. The hearing schedule will be posted on the City Council Web site.

The hearings follow the release of the CAFR. The FY 2008 CAFR will be released by February 1, 2009.

There are numerous ways the public can have a say in these hearings:

  • Testify;

  • Submit a statement in lieu of making a public appearance;

  • Suggest to Council committees what information they should ask of agencies/boards/commissions in preparation for the hearings; and

  • Suggest to Council committees what questions they can ask at the hearings.

There are also things that can be done after the hearings, including:

  • Following up with committees. Sometimes, Councilmembers ask for more detailed information about a particular subject – you may want to provide that. You may also want to correct what you think were errors in the testimony of others, or provide more explanation.
  • Helping committees prepare for the budget hearings that will take place between March and May 2009.

In the event you are interested in more detailed guidance or advice, I am available.

*The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is responsible for preparing the District's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The OCFO ensures that the CAFR is released each year on time and with a clean opinion from the city's independent auditors. A clean opinion indicates that the District's financial books are in order, that the CAFR fairly presents the city's financials, and that the results of the city's fiscal year operations are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

The District's fiscal year is from October 1 to September 30. The CAFR must be issued by February 1 following the end of a fiscal year. The District of Columbia Citizens' Report (DCCR) is a summary of the past, present, and future conditions of the District of Columbia. It provides a brief history about how the District's government is operated and why; it explains the District's increased residential construction, improved infrastructure, and enhanced economic development; and it explains the District's future challenges and economic outlook. (This is taken directly from the Web site of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.)