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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

Remembering Robert Cowan

Robert Cowan

Auditor's Office staff joined with family and friends of our colleague, Robert Cowan, to celebrate a life well-lived. Robert worked in the Auditor's Office for 29 of the 31 years he was employed by the City of Portland. He died on Memorial Day of complications from pancreatic cancer. Our condolences are with Robert's spouse, Sherman Bucher, and Robert's extended family.

Robert, 61, joined Audit Services in 1989 after short stints in other City departments starting in 1987. Prior to coming to the City, he worked as a U.S. Navy public affairs specialist/journalist for four years with assignments in print, broadcasting and public information in Australia and Hawaii. He also spent time in the trust banking field and ran a part-time administrative and design consulting business for three years. Robert worked with staff in Audit Services to produce reports for publication and coordinate media and public information requests.

Robert was honored by family, friends, and colleagues at a memorial service June 19, 2018, followed by interment at Willamette National Cemetery. Find photos of the service here:


City should set priorities for arts and culture, improve contract oversight

The City should ensure that the work of the Regional Arts and Culture Council is aligned with City priorities and improve oversight of its $8.3 million contract with the not-for-profit organization, according to an audit my office released on Tuesday.

The City has contracted with the Arts Council for more than 20 years. The Arts Council is a regional organization, and its responsibilities include strategic planning and policy development for arts and culture. The Arts Council administers grants and arts education programs and is the steward of the City’s public art collection.

In 2017, the City provided the Arts Council with $8.3 million, more than 70 percent of the Arts Council’s budget. The City’s current contract with the Arts Council expires in June 2018, and City staff are considering changes to it.

Auditors found that risks exist because the City does not have clear goals for arts and culture, the Arts Council needs to articulate its strategy and regional role, and the City’s contract and oversight of it needs improvement.

We discussed our audit in a work session with City Council and the Arts Council’s interim Director, Jeff Hawthorne on Tuesday.

Celebrate Jewel Lansing Day

Invitation to Jewel Lansing DayJewel Lansing is being honored for her contributions as a trailblazer for women in elective office and a pioneer in government accountability. She served as Multnomah County Auditor from 1975 to 1982 and as Portland City Auditor from 1983 through 1986. Jewel was one of the first two women elected to Multnomah County government and was the fifth elected to Portland government. She introduced performance auditing to both jurisdictions, which focuses on how well operations and programs are performing.

Join Mayor Ted Wheeler for the proclamation declaring Jewel Lansing Day, Wednesday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m. in the City Council Chamber. Afterward, you can stroll by the newly named Jewel Lansing Conference Room on the first floor between Rooms 130 and 140. 




Listen in on the City's arts and culture discussion

The City has contracted with the Regional Arts and Culture Council for more than 20 years to provide services, including public art, grants, and arts education. On Tuesday, May 22, at 9:30 a.m., we will present our audit of the City's contractual relationship with the Arts Council during a City Council work session. The meeting in the Council Chamber is open to the public and can be viewed online:


Audit of Prosper Portland wins national award

We work hard to make all of the audits we produce excellent. But we’re pleased to announce that one, Prosper Portland: Disciplined property management needed to achieve future revenue goals, received special recognition: a 2017 Exemplary Knighton Award.

The Association of Local Government Auditors created the Knighton Award in 1995 to recognize the best performance audit reports produced by local government audit shops. Local governments from across the United States and Canada submit their best reports each year to be judged against five criteria:

  1. Potentially significant impacts
  2. Persuasive conclusions
  3. Recommendations that are feasible and will make government more effective and efficient
  4. Clear and concise communication
  5. Innovation.

According to these criteria, the judges found that the Prosper Portland audit was among the best of 2017. The judges noted that the report was timely, with Prosper Portland in the midst of a transition to becoming a more equitable organization. They wrote that the report “stands out among other audit reports for its engaging flow of information and effective use of graphics and multimedia.”

We produced highlights, a report, and a video to share the results of the audit. 

Other winners can be found here.