Press "Enter" to skip to content

The MSB’s “Internal Auditor”…What exactly is this position and where are the “Internal Audit” reports?

The Municipality of Anchorage has an Internal Auditor.

The MOA’s website explains:

The primary focus of Internal Audit is to assist the Mayor and the Municipal Assembly in ensuring that proper accountability is maintained over public funds and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Municipal government within the constraints of the Anchorage Municipal Code.

The MOA’s Internal Auditor conducts investigations and prepares detailed reports for the Anchorage Mayor and Municipal Assembly and the PUBLIC on everything and anything financial.  These reports are published on the MOA’s website – going back almost 25 years!

Check out the MOA’s website.

For example, in 2017, the Internal Auditor prepared and published a total of 14 reports – on everything from “Cash Control Procedures; Solid Waste Services” and “Municipal Leases Follow-Up; Real Estate Department” to “Annual Municipal Procurement Card Review; Purchasing Department” (i.e. credit card use.)

These reports are amazing!  Read through some of them.  They contain so much detail as well as “findings and recommendations.”

The MOA’s internal auditor provides valuable information and gets results.  Here is an example:

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has a Internal Auditor too. Sort of.  

However, our Internal Auditor doesn’t seem to prepare any reports.  Or, if our Internal Auditor does prepare reports, the public is not made aware of them.  There is NOTHING about the Internal Auditor and there are no Internal Audit reports posted on the MSB’s website.

The MSB’s internal auditor is James Wilson.  How Mr. Wilson came to be hired by the MSB is convoluted.

Back in the fall of 2010, the MSB was conducting a search for a new Borough Manager to replace longtime manager John Duffy who retired.  The Assistant Manager, Elizabeth Gray, was named Acting Manager during the search.

James Wilson was one of the applicants for the Manager’s job. He made it to the final 11 and then the final 7, but he did NOT make it to the final 3.

On November 30, 2010, following a closed door session, the MSB Assembly announced that it was re-starting the manager search and hiring an executive search firm.

113010 spc mtg re manager vacancy mtg mins

The MSB Assembly never explained to the public why they were doing this.  Hmmm…

From the above Frontiersman article:

For a moment there it looked like the long, complicated process of selecting a new manager to head up Mat-Su Borough government was nearing an end.

Two weeks ago, the borough assembly had whittled the list of candidates to three, ranked them, and seemed ready to announce a decision. But on Tuesday the borough assembly decided to bring in an executive consulting firm to drum up some new applicants. And, though the borough announced that decision officially, at least for now, the assembly can’t explain it.

“The statement that was made is the statement that the assembly has allowed to go to the public,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Arvin. “I’d like to say more. I know there are a lot of people who would like to have more information, but it’s a complicated process.”…

The search for a manager has been ongoing since April when John Duffy resigned after 10 years at the helm. The initial applicant pool contained around 60 names. As of two weeks ago that list had been narrowed to three — Greg Young, city administrator of Ferndale, Wash.; Don Baird, town manager of Granby, Colo.; and Desmond Mayo, finance director for Crowley Petroleum Distribution.

Note: This is very confusing. Here are two emails dated Jan 27, 2011, from MSB Clerk Lonnie McKechnie to the Assembly members in which she attaches the new manager candidate list and also mentions that “James Wilson has pulled his application.” So, the MSB Assembly did not choose him as one of the three finalists in November 2010, but after a closed door executive session during which the MSB decided to re-open the search and hire a search firm, somehow his name re-emerged only for him to pull his application!??

Further Note:  James Wilson was let go from his position in Galveston, TX in the midst of all this. Galveston_ County_s 5jan2011 wilson

The MSB Assembly hired John Moosey (our current manager) a couple of months later on February 26, 2011.

Two days after that, James Wilson started working for the MSB as a temporary “Assistant to the Assistant Manager.”  He worked for the MSB from 2/28/2011 until 5/12/2011, i.e., during the budget cycle.

Here is Mr. Wilson’s resume circa April, 2012 (found online from when he was a finalist for a County Administrator position in Florida):

Mr. Wilson’s 2011 newly created temporary budget analyst position was not advertised.  There was no job description.  There was no documentation of tasks and no final evaluation.  The pay grade was 29.

[This information comes from a 2013 records/information request from a resident.]

Scan_20180318 (7)

Mr. Wilson was paid $17,694.72 for his (two and a half months’ worth of) work for the MSB in 2011.

Scan_20180318 (8)

In 2012, the MSB hired Blitch Associates Inc. (i.e. their Vice President Don Grimes) as a contractor to provide budget advice.  The cost was $10,000 plus travel expenses for Mr. Grimes. There was no solicitation for this contract.  Mr. Grimes’ reports apparently were provided to the MSB Administration but not the public.

Then in 2013, James Wilson was hired again by the MSB.  The MSB hired Mr. Wilson first as a contractor/budget analyst and then shortly thereafter he was hired permanently as the “Internal Auditor.”

[Note: Interestingly, in January 2012, MSB Asst Manager Elizabeth Gray moved to Altus, Oklahoma to work as the city manager there…and she hired James Wilson to be her financial advisor…James Wilson hired as consultant 2012-02-21 City Council – Full Minutes-1378  …See more below]

Here is the Feb 19, 2013 Resolution sponsored by Assembly member Jim COLVER directing the Borough Manager to Solicit Proposals from Financial Advisors to Serve as a Budget Analyst for the Assembly.

Budge Analyst 2013-RS-031 (1)

The MSB did issue a formal solicitation for this temporary budget analyst job (unlike in 2011 and 2012).  It was posted on the MSB website from 3/6/13 to 3/18/13 and advertised in the Anchorage Daily News once on 3/6/13 and in the Frontiersman once on 3/8/13.

Mr. Wilson was hired and he worked from April 8th until May 22nd 2013 – mostly from his home in Oklahoma. He was paid $55,316.25 plus travel expenses of $3,429.54 for a grand total of $58,745.79 for 38 days of work.

$58,745.79 is a LOT of money to pay someone for a 6-week gig.  This amount was only disclosed because a member of the public made a public records request.

Note: Mr. Wilson did this contract work for the MSB in April and May 2013 WHILE he was also working for the City of Altus, Oklahoma (for former MSB Asst Manager Eliz. Gray) in the very same capacity – advising that city on its finances and budget. It is unclear if Mr. Wilson was a paid employee of Altus or an independent contractor.  Nevertheless, he was working for both entities at the exact same time.  How did he not get confused re: these two budgets?

Then in June, 2013, the MSB Manager approved the new job of “Internal Auditor.”  The job was posted on July 8, 2013.

James Wilson was hired for this position.

NOTE: The job description seems tailored for Mr. Wilson who is not does hold CPA or CIA certificates.  Generally, an “Internal Auditor” is supposed to be an accounting professional.

What is a Certified Internal Auditor?

Anyhow, the MSB “Internal Auditor” job description states that this employee will “Provide the Assembly and Borough Manager with objective information to assist them in determining whether government operations are adequately controlled and whether the required high degree of public accountability is maintained through managing a professional audit staff, conducting audits for management to assess effectiveness of controls, accuracy of financial reports, and efficiency of operations.”

Um, where is all of this stuff?  Where is the PUBLIC accountability? Where is the professional audit staff?  Where are the AUDITS? Why doesn’t the MSB post Audit Reports on our website like the Municipality of Anchorage?

This is what the Internal Auditor promised to accomplish back in 2014:

Where are these proposed audits or reports?

Note: Here are the only two “reports” (a one page memo re: the ferry sale and a three page power point presentation re: the budget) I found on the MSB website which were prepared by Mr. Wilson. (Note: Mr. Wilson has been working as our “Internal Auditor” for almost five years now.)

Ferry Sale Financial Points memo

What is the MSB’s Internal Auditor doing exactly?

Well, he seems to be working on Economic Development.

The State of Alaska DOT referred to him as the MSB’s staffer who deals with “Economic Development Projects” in their recent Big Lake Airport Master Plan report.

“Economic Development” is written on many of his Travel expense reports.  He has been the MSB’s point person on the possible LNG deals and timber deals, etc.   He has been travelling all over the place, including taking numerous trips back to Oklahoma and Texas.

He drove all over the northern part of the MSB during the summer of 2017 inspecting Timber parcels. (If you ask me, spending most of June, July and and August driving all over the beautiful areas of the MSB to “inspect Timber parcels” and getting paid to do so plus receiving gas reimbursements sounds like a fabulous way to spend the summer.)

He met with Japanese Resource Developers:

He attends Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) meetings:

AIDEA’s Mission Statement

To promote, develop, and advance economic growth and diversification in Alaska by providing various means of financing and investment.

This doesn’t sound like Internal Auditing.

One Comment

Comments are closed.