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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

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.


Gang enforcement audit reports call for change

Gang crime and the Police Bureau’s approach to preventing and investigating it is a matter of grave concern to the community. Gang crime and police tactics affect African Americans in Portland disproportionately, and African Americans report lower levels of trust in the Police Bureau.

We audited the Gang Enforcement Team’s effectiveness over the last year and captured our findings and recommendations in two reports.

One report focused on the Gang Enforcement Team’s use of minor traffic infractions to stop cars that officers suspected of carrying gang members. We found the team could not demonstrate that the stops were effective in deterring gang crime while the tactic chipped away at community trust when African American drivers not involved in gang crime got stopped.

The second report reviewed tactics used by the Gang Enforcement Team members who investigate suspected gang crimes. The Police Bureau used a variety of sources to develop lists of people they determined to be active gang members and those associated with them. The Gang Enforcement Team announced in September that it would stop using one type of list, but did not disclose its continued use of another list. We found the list still in use needs policy constraints and legal review to ensure civil liberties are protected and the risk for abuses and errors is addressed.

You will find the reports and associated videos by clicking on the links below. I hope they contribute to your understanding of gang enforcement tactics and the disproportionate burden they place on Portland’s African American residents. I am pleased that both Mayor Wheeler and Chief Outlaw accepted the recommendations and committed to implementing them. We will check back in a year to assess their progress. 

-- Mary Hull Caballero