I've not heard much about Michael Willis who is running for City Auditor. So I decided to ask him a few questions via email.
What qualifications do you have that would make you a good auditor?
Beyond educational and previous experience at city hall, I believe my qualifications are several. Number one, I am a good communicator. I take my work and my committment to public service very seriously. I have the ability to make well informed, but quick and determined decisions. I am very familiar with the City's financial framework and I feel that I have a lot of energy to work on new innovative ideas for better government. I am a good manager and a good leader.Do you have any auditing experience?
I have not worked in the Auditor's office before, so I have never audited a city government. However, the great thing about the auditor's office in Tulsa is that there is a 12 person staff consisting of a variety of different disciplines. There are several CPA's, a couple certified internal auditors and a certified fraud examiner. So, in terms of the "bean counting" as some people say it, I am not very experienced. However, I know that under my direction the staff will provide excellent information and reporting regarding traditional financial auditing. The thing that I bring to the table is a committment and knowledge of performance measuring and auditing. I believe this is something that has been missing for about 18 years. I'm not sure what business you are in, but I'm sure you audit or measure the performance of your organization and make changes based on the results. The auditor should be doing that and working hand in hand with the mayor and council to find solutions that create efficiencies within the financial framework.Why do you think it is time for Phil Wood to be replaced?
This is why I want to replace Mr. Wood. I don't believe he is interested in either performance auditing/measuring or rocking the boat if something comes up wrong. For four years I have worked at city hall and only in the past two weeks have I seen him do anything to really question what is going on at city hall. That's why we elect and auditor... to be the independent watchdog for the citizens.You work in the Mayor's Office. In that stead, you surely have formed some opinions about city government. What areas of the city need attention? Where would Auditor Willis focus his attention the first day of office?
I’d like to thank Mr. Willis for answering my questions.If you would like to find out more about Michael Willis, you can checkout his website.
The funny thing about working in the Mayor's office has been that I better understand the political ramifications and facets of managing the city. I believe that no matter who the Mayor is or who makes up the city council, those ten officials will always put around 80% of their time into managing or making policy regarding the top three or so issues at city hall. Of course, right now those are crime, economic development and streets. I really don't think those change much. So, I believe it is important for the city auditor to not only make recommendations about procedural or policy changes, but specifically pay close attention to the departments at the city that are not so glamorous like Parks, Equipment Management, Human Resources, Finance and so on. So from me, you will see a major focus on those areas as well.
On my first day, I will begin by meeting with the staff. I plan to reorganize at least part of the staff to work on performance related issues and also focus on information dispersal to the public. My first project is to try to save some money by changing the way we handle the motor pool. We have a huge pool of vehicles... about 1700, I think, but specifically we have 7 or so vehicles that are available to anyone to use.. kind of a rental arrangement, but most of the time all or most of the vehicles are not being used. I see no reason in the city spending capital dollars to buy vehicles that are scarcely used. We should use operating dollars and set up an agreement with a rental car provider to have several cars "on deck" for use or on demand, so we can use those capital dollars for infrastructure improvements to things like streets, sidewalks, water lines and such.
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