The Solid Waste Management Department has opportunities for improving its system of internal controls. Such controls are vital to ensuring accountability, consistent operations and integrity of information assets. By implementing the recommendations in this report, SWMD can improve its system of internal controls as it continues to improve delivery of premier residential solid waste collections services to the City of Albuquerque.
On a weekly basis, the Residential Collections Division provides curbside residential automated trash collection service for approximately 180,000 residences, and responds to requests for large-item pickups. Other SWMD Divisions provide significant support for the Residential Collections Division.
SWMD has deployed various technologies to increase efficiencies and improve monitoring capabilities. These include GPS vehicle tracking, time and distance based route optimization, and automated timekeeping.
SWMD and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) jointly bill customers for water and solid waste services. The billing system is a strength in SWMD’s system of internal controls, as it was designed specifically for utility vendors, utilizes an industry-leading relational database management system, and is web-based, making it platform independent.
Objective: Do the controls in place ensure full collection of residential fees as defined in § 9-10-1-11?
- SWMD lacked a written procedure for processing customer account adjustments, credits, and error corrections. SWMD was following an established process for authorizing and applying adjustments and credits and new employees had been verbally trained on the process. Without defined policies and procedures, unauthorized credits or adjustments could be posted to customer accounts, effectively providing residential collections services free of charge.
- SWMD does not have a consistent procedure for deactivating user IDs on the billing system. Although the billing system requires that user IDs for terminated employees remain on the system for reference, such IDs should be managed so as to have no rights to access billing data. If left active, user ID’s for terminated and transferred employees could be used to gain access to the customer billing system and view personally identifiable information (PII) of SWMD customers or post unauthorized transactions.
Objective: Do the monitoring controls in place provide effective tracking and control of daily residential collection services?
- SWMD management has not enforced timekeeping policies governing supervisory approval of non-exempt employee timecards. The Payroll Officer processes time even though it has not been approved by a supervisor. As a result, the supervisors have not been held accountable for reviewing and approving employee timecards. Lack of supervisory review may contribute to excessive or unauthorized overtime.
- In an average month, the City’s 311 center receives approximately 2,000 calls for missed refuse pickups (commercial and residential combined). Although SWMD usually resolves missed pickup calls within three days, there is no follow-up analysis to determine if there are recurring problems with particular drivers or routes. Without ongoing analysis, SWMD may be missing opportunities to improve performance of residential collection activities.
Objective: Are controls in place to ensure complete, accurate, and consistent recording of residential load weights and calculation of compaction rates?
- The scale house had established procedures to follow in the event of a disruption to electronic information systems. Personnel had been verbally trained on the procedures. The procedures included manual data-collection forms to capture tonnages by truck during a disruption. However, the procedures had not been committed to writing. The lack of written procedures may contribute to missed data collection when regular data processing systems are unavailable.
Objective: Are controls sufficient to ensure accurate and consistent cost of service (COS) calculations?
- SWMD utilizes a public accounting firm with appropriate industry specialization to oversee production of the annual COS update.
- A consistent methodology is utilized to update the COS.
- The COS is updated to reflect changes in SWMD programs and services.
- Results are reviewed for reasonableness prior to finalization.