In recent months, a New York State city with a workforce of over 1,000 employees underwent a rigorous, time-consuming audit by the NY State Comptroller’s Office. Although the city cannot be named, it provides an illuminating example of the challenges that organizations can face when undergoing such an audit.
The on-site in-person audit was a comprehensive and thorough process, taking over a month to complete with the entire experience consuming almost one year. State officials paid particular attention to seasonal workers, elected officials, and board and commission member training status. For a variety of reasons these groups can be challenging to corral for training and difficult to account for, but the auditor made sure that they were up to date and fully compliant.
Spotlight on In-Person Trainings
Aside from validating that the training curriculum met NY state requirements, in-person training events were a key focus of the audit, with particular emphasis on verifying learner attendance. Auditors looked for an “official training log” where trainees sign in and out, and attendance is verified by the proctor/instructor. For large groups, eLearning was found to be a highly effective tool for both delivering training and tracking and reporting on individual learner progress and completion status (a built-in de facto training log).
The audit resulted in an official report, and the audited organization was required to submit an “corrective” action plan to address shortcomings identified. Despite the challenges of the audit, the city achieved an impressive 99% compliance rating. One notable corrective action taken was to require all departments to formalize attendance policy and procedures and send their training logs back to the Personnel department, rather than keep their own training records.
Audits can never be prevented, but with proper training workflows their effect can be minimized and require less time and resources to comply with. This audit experience underscores the importance of having a trackable and reportable training program in place. It also provides a useful model for other cities and counties in New York State, highlighting the need for thoroughness and attention to detail in preparing for state audits.
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