Audit of theSuperior Court of California,County of San JoaquinREPORT OFINTERNAL AUDIT SERVICESAPRIL 2011
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San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Superior Court of California, County of San JoaquinTable of ContentsMANAGEMENT SUMMARY . iSTATISTICS . viiiFINANCIAL STATEMENTS. xPURPOSE AND SCOPE . xviTIMING AND REVIEWS WITH MANAGEMENT . xviISSUES AND MANAGEMENT RESPONSES1. Court Administration . 1 Organization Responsibilities and Authority2. Fiscal Management and Budgets . 5 Financial Management Internal Controls Payroll & Timekeeping3. Fund Accounting. 104. Accounting Principles and Practices . 13 Fund Accounting Grant Accounting and Administration Revenues and Expenditures General Ledger5. Cash Collections . 16 Cash Handling Revenue Collection and Distribution6. Information Systems . 257. Banking and Treasury . 35 Investments8. Court Security . 389. Procurement . 41 Procurement and Encumbrances Administration and Documentation10. Contracts . 46 Contracts Memorandums of Understanding Contract Administration
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 201111. Accounts Payable . 48 Judge and Employee Travel Expense Reimbursement Vendor Invoice and Claim Processing Business Meal Expense Guidelines Petty Cash12. Fixed Assets Management . 5813. Audits . 6214. Records Retention . 6315. Domestic Violence . 6416. Exhibits . 6517. Bail . 68APPENDIXIssue Control Log. 70
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Page iMANAGEMENT SUMMARYIntroductionThe Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 (Act) eliminated the requirement for county audits of thecourts effective January 1, 1998. Since that time, the Superior Courts of California haveundergone significant changes to their operations. These changes have also impacted theirinternal control structures, yet no independent reviews of their operations were generallyconducted until the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Internal Audit Services (IAS),began court audits in 2002.The audit of the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin (Court) was initiated byIAS in September 2009. Depending on the size of the court, the audit process typically involvesthree or four audit cycles encompassing the following primary areas: Court administration Cash controls Court revenue and expenditure General operationsIAS audits cover all four of the above areas. The audit process involves the review of theCourt’s compliance with California statute, California Rules of Court, the Trial Court FinancialPolicies and Procedures Manual (FIN Manual), and other relevant policies. IAS conducted itsfirst audit of the Court in FY 2005–2006. IAS followed up on issues identified in this prior auditto determine whether the Court adequately resolved previous issues.Compliance with the Financial Integrity and State Manager’s Accountability Act (FISMA) isalso an integral part of the audit process. The primary focus of a FISMA review is to evaluatethe Court’s internal control structure and processes. While IAS does not believe that FISMAapplies to the judicial branch, IAS understands that it represents good public policy and conductsinternal audits incorporating the following FISMA concepts relating to internal control: A plan of organization that provides segregation of duties appropriate for propersafeguarding of assets;A plan that limits access to assets to authorized personnel;A system of authorization, record keeping, and monitoring that adequately provideseffective internal control;An established system of practices to be followed in the performance of duties andfunctions; andPersonnel of a quality commensurate with their responsibilities.IAS believes that this audit provides the Court with a review that also accomplishes whatFISMA requires.IAS audits are designed to identify instances of non-compliance, such as with the FINManual and FISMA. Some of these instances of non-compliance are highlighted in the
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Page iiAudit Issues Overview below. Although IAS audits do not emphasize or elaborate on areasof compliance, we did identify examples in which the Court was in compliance with the FINManual and FISMA. Specifically, except for those issues reported in this report, some of theareas where IAS found the Court in compliance included the following: An organizational plan that provides for an effective segregation of duties to properlysafeguard assets, including money from its collection to deposit. A well documented system of authorization and recordkeeping for revenues andexpenditures that provides effective accounting control. Management controls to monitor personnel in the performance of their duties andresponsibilities. The ability to attract and retain quality personnel that are knowledgeable and motivatedto take accountability and responsibility for the performance of their duties.To enable the Court to continue to improve and strengthen its system of internal controls, it isimportant that the Court note those areas of noncompliance reported below and in the body ofthis report. The Court should actively monitor the issues reported in this audit, and any issuesidentified by its own internal staff that may perform periodic reviews of Court operations andpractices, to ensure it implements prompt, appropriate, and effective corrective action.Audit Issues OverviewThis internal audit identified areas of noncompliance that were consolidated into the reportableissues included in this report, as well as other areas of noncompliance that IAS did not considersignificant enough to include in the report, but were nonetheless communicated to courtmanagement. IAS provided the Court with opportunities to respond to all the issues identified inthis report and included these responses in the report to provide the Court’s perspective. IAS didnot perform additional work to verify the implementation of the corrective measures asserted bythe Court in its responses.Although the audit identified other reportable issues, the following issues are highlighted forCourt management’s attention. Specifically, the Court needs to improve and refine certainprocedures and practices to ensure compliance with statewide policies and procedures and/orbest practices. These issues are summarized below:Cash HandlingTo protect the integrity of the court and its employees and promote public confidence, the FINManual provides courts with uniform guidelines for receiving and accounting for payments fromthe public. Specifically, the FIN Manual requires courts to observe certain guidelines to assurethe safe and secure collection and accurate accounting of all payments. For example, at thebeginning of each day, cashiers receive a nominal amount of money, secured in individuallylocked drawers or bags, to enable them to return change on cash transactions. Cashiers shouldverify receipt of their beginning cash funds with their supervisor, and any beginning cashdiscrepancies should be resolved before the cashier starts their daily cash collection duties.In addition, the FIN Manual requires supervisory court staff to review and approve voidtransactions, and all void receipts should be retained, not destroyed.
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Page iiiAlso, the FIN Manual states that all cashiers must balance and closeout their own cash drawer orregister at the end of the workday. Balancing and closeout includes activities such as completingand signing the daily report, turning in the daily report with money collected to the supervisor,and verifying the daily report with the supervisor.Further, the FIN Manual provides courts with the following guidance for processing paymentsreceived through the mail: Two-person teams are used to open and process mail to maintain accountability for paymentsreceived in the mail. Checks and money orders received in the mail should be processed on the day they arereceived and listed on a cash receipts log. The log should record certain key information,such as case number, check amount, check number, and date received, and be signed by theperson logging the payments. Checks and money orders received through the mail but not processed on the day receivedshould be placed in a locked area and processed on the next business day after notifying thesupervisor.The FIN Manual also requires, in part, that an employee other than the person who prepares thedeposit (preferably a supervisor or higher level of management) verify, sign, and date the depositslip, or other similar document, evidencing that receipts have been deposited intact.Finally, the FIN Manual requires courts to document and obtain AOC approval of theiralternative procedures if court procedures differ from the procedures in the FIN Manual.Alternative procedures not approved by the AOC are not considered valid for audit purposes.Our review of the Court’s cash handling practices and associated documents found that the Courtfollows inconsistent cash handling and accounting practices. Specifically, the Court couldstrengthen its procedures in the following areas:Cash Collections – Court cashiers at two of its nine locations share one cash drawer, whichmakes it difficult, if not impossible, to hold any one cashier accountable for any cashdiscrepancies. Further, seven locations could not demonstrate supervisory review of eachcashier’s beginning cash to ensure cashiers are beginning their shift with the correct amountof cash.Void Transactions – Four Court locations do not always retain the original voided receipt.Further, at one of these four locations, the Void Payment Acknowledgement Form is notalways signed by a manager, supervisor, or lead clerk and retained to demonstratesupervisory review and approval of the void transaction. Also, three locations could notalways demonstrate that a supervisor reviewed and approved the void transactions.Daily Closeout Process – Eight locations could not demonstrate supervisory review of thedaily closeout process. Also, cashiers at one location do not always sign their end-of-daybalancing reports, and cashiers at a third location do not always prepare an adding machinetape to verify the total amount of checks collected. Further, Court personnel at a fourth
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Page ivlocation perform the daily closeout process the next business day rather than at the end of theday, delaying the possible discovery and investigation of out-of-balance transactions andcash receipts.Mail Payments – The Court does not require two-person teams to open the mail nor does ituse a mail payment log to track the mail payments it received. In addition, clerks assigned toopen mail at five locations also perform the incompatible function of processing mailpayments the same day. Further, clerks processing mail and drop-box payments at fourlocations also perform the incompatible function of processing counter payments on the sameday. Not requiring a two-person team to open mail and not completing a mail payment logmay provide individuals who handle mail and subsequently process mail and counterpayments on the same day with an opportunity to take money without being detected.Also, three locations do not adequately secure unprocessed mail payments. Instead,unprocessed mail payments are left unsecured on clerks’ desks overnight, leaving the Courtat risk of having mail payments lost or stolen.In addition, one location does not always process mail payments by the next business day anddoes not maintain an aging schedule of unprocessed mail payments. Moreover, this Courtlocation, along with two other locations, does not have a process for escalating andcommunicating to Court management information about the volume of unprocessed mailpayments, which would enable the Court to redirect available resources to help Courtlocations process mail payments by the next business day.Bank Deposits – Two locations could not demonstrate supervisory review of prepared bankdeposits. Further, Court personnel at one of these locations verify the daily closeout andbalance as well as perform the incompatible function of preparing the bank deposit. Withoutsupervisory review of the bank deposit, the Court risks having daily collections lost or stolen.The Court indicated that due to staffing restrictions and the already time consuming process ofopening and processing mail, the court is struggling with the two- person team needed to openthe mail and log all checks received, particularly at the branch locations. The Court indicatedthat it is working on developing an alternative procedure that will comply with therecommendation. The Court agreed with the remaining audit recommendations and indicatestaking corrective action to address the noted issues.Revenue DistributionState statutes and local ordinances govern the distribution of the fees, fines, penalties, and otherassessments that courts collect. Courts rely on the Manual of Accounting and Audit Guidelinesfor Trial Courts – Appendix C issued by the State Controller’s Office (SCO Appendix C) and theUniform Bail and Penalty Schedule (UBS) issued by the Judicial Council to calculate anddistribute these court collections to the appropriate State and local funds. Courts use either anautomated system, manual process, or a combination of both to perform the often complexcalculations and distributions required by law.
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Page vThe Court uses one case management system (CMS) for traffic case types and another CMS forcriminal case types. However, only the traffic CMS has the fiscal capability to calculate therequired distributions of the fees, fines, penalties, and other assessments the Court collects.Therefore, the Court downloads the criminal case collection information to the traffic CMS anduses it to calculate the associated distributions. Monthly, the Court submits to the County a“Total Distribution” spreadsheet that lists the month’s collections distributed by applicable codesection.Our review of the calculated distributions of the Court collections noted various calculation anddistribution errors for many of the cases we selected to review. For example, the Court did notcalculate and distribute the 30 percent allocation for railroad public safety and education for theone railroad case we reviewed. In addition, the Court incorrectly calculated the 20 percent StateSurcharge when it calculated the surcharge using the base fine net of the special base finereductions rather than calculating the surcharge using the original base fine for the two DUI andone reckless driving cases we reviewed. Other calculation and distribution errors were noted onthe other cases we reviewed, such as red light bail forfeiture, red light traffic school, unattendedchild, child seat bail forfeiture, child seat traffic school, traffic violator school, and health andsafety cases.The Court agreed with the audit recommendations and indicates taking corrective action toaddress the noted issues.Trust AccountingCourts hold trust funds in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of others and are responsible forproperly managing, monitoring, and safeguarding these funds. Specifically, the FIN Manualrequires courts to implement procedures and controls to manage and safeguard court funds. Forexample, courts are required to reconcile all bank accounts at least monthly, and more frequentlyif required, to maintain adequate control over trial court funds. This would involve a completereconciliation between the bank account, fiscal system, and the case management system, whichis the detailed sub-ledger system of trust account activity.Our review of the Court’s trust accounting practices revealed that the Court is not current with itstrust account reconciliations. Specifically, the Court stated that since April 2008 it has not beenable to perform reconciliations due to problems with its CMS system reports. The Court iscurrently working with the AOC to address this issue, among others it is experiencing with itsCMS. In the meantime, the Court is working on developing a special report to reconcile its trustaccounts. However, the Court has only one part-time employee working on developing thisreport and expects that it will be well into the 2011 calendar year before it becomes current in itstrust account reconciliations.The Court agreed with the audit recommendations and indicates taking corrective action toaddress the noted issues.Procurement PracticesAs stewards of public funds, trial courts have an obligation to use sound procurement practices todemonstrate that goods and services are purchased in a fair and reasonable manner, and that
San Joaquin Superior CourtApril 2011Page vipublic funds were used economically. To obtain the best value for a purchase, courts shouldsolicit competing offers from multiple, well-qualified vendors. At the same time, they shouldconsider the amount of time and resources dedicated to such activities.The FIN Manual provides uniform guidelines for courts to use in procuring necessary goods andservices, and to document their procurement practices. For example, the procurement processbegin
The audit of the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin (Court) was initiated by IAS in September 2009. Depending on the size of the court, the audit process typically involves . Court management’s attention. Specifically, the Court needs to improve and refine certain
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