Taylor Issues Performance Audit of Cuyahoga County Recorder’s Office

Office can save more than $1 million if audit recommendations are implemented

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cleveland -

Auditor of State Mary Taylor today released the performance audit of the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office.  The office could save more than $1 million annually if the audit recommendations are adopted.

The audit was conducted at the request of the Cuyahoga County Commissioners after the resignation of Recorder Patrick O’Malley.  The performance audit addresses whether O’Malley used public tax dollars efficiently and effectively during his term in office.

“Cuyahoga County taxpayers deserve well-organized, efficient and effective government services.  As elected officials, we have an obligation to uphold the integrity of the office for which elected to serve and be good stewards of public funds.  The results of this performance audit will assist county leaders as they make important decisions about the future operations of the Recorder’s office,” said Taylor. 

The performance audit examines the Recorder’s office human resources and general operations departments.  For the purposes of the audit, the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office was benchmarked against similar agencies in Franklin, Hamilton and Lucas counties.  Additionally, the Society for Human Resources Management, the Government Finance Officers Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provided comparison information.

The audit reveals that the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office had 92.2 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and the office processed 2,522 documents annually per FTE.  In contrast, the Franklin County and Hamilton County Recorder’s offices employed 57.5 and 36 FTEs, respectively, and processed an average of 3,912 and 4,688 documents per FTE.  

The audit also shows that Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office administrative and support personnel make 48 percent more than the peer average for similar employees in benchmarked counties.  The average salary of all Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office employees is $43,427, which is 19 percent higher than the peer average of benchmarked counties ($36,303). 

The performance audit made specific recommendations for improvement, including:

• Reducing the number of operations personnel by 17 positions could save $698,000.
The office should consolidate job functions and offer appropriate training to reduce costs and increase efficiency.  The audit shows that while Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office has 92.2 full-time equivalents, Franklin County has 57.5, Hamilton County has 36 and Lucas County has 13.
• Reducing the number of public outreach staff by seven positions could save $365,500.
The Recorder’s office should conduct a cost-benefit analysis of public outreach staff services and should consider reducing the size of the outreach staff.  The audit notes that Cuyahoga County public outreach staff has 8.4 full-time equivalents and Franklin County has 2.  Hamilton and Lucas Counties have zero public outreach full-time equivalents.
• Completing an office compensation plan could cost $20,000.
The office should create a plan outlining each position within the organization and the appropriate salary range for each position.
• Reducing future wage increases could save $40,000.
By reducing future wage increases, the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s office will bring salary levels closer to peer offices.  The office could save $40,000 per year for every one percent reduction in future salary increases.
• Implementing a formal hiring and evaluation process, staffing plan and job descriptions.
Applying proper human resource processes and tools would better ensure efficient staffing levels.

A performance audit reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of government agency or program operations.  This is achieved through comparing and benchmarking the agency or program to similar agencies and relevant standards.  The results of a performance audit can be used to improve the effectiveness of operations, save taxpayer dollars and make better use of existing resources.

Since taking office in January 2007, Taylor has released 50 performance audits outlining 1,973 recommendations for improvements.  Those recommendations, if fully implemented, could result in potential cost savings of more than $83 million annually.

A full copy of the report is available online at http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2008/Cuyahoga_Co_Recorders_Office_08_Performance-Cuyahoga.pdf.