Daily Herald Opinion: DuPage County auditor at least takes responsibility for delayed reports

When some DuPage County Board members started raising concerns about the lack of quarterly audit reports, the elected official responsible could have done a few things.

DuPage County Auditor Bill White could have tried to pass the blame to another county department. Or he could have just ignored the county board members and refused to answer their questions.

But White, a Democrat serving his first term as the county auditor, did something pleasantly surprising for a politician. He promised to do better.

“The buck stops with me,” White told the county board on Tuesday. “I’m responsible for my entire office. I’m 100% responsible for making sure we come into compliance.”

Quarterly audit reports review the county’s financials and flag any problems.

White, who took office in late 2020, acknowledged that the last quarterly audit report released for DuPage covered the third fiscal quarter of 2020.

There is no doubt about it. That is a very long delay.

“This board needs to know the stuff that’s going on out there … not three years later,” county board member Brian Krajewski said.

Krajewski is right. And credit goes to him and other county board members for pointing out that the quarterly audit reports in DuPage should be up to date.

We also can see why they wanted White to explain how the delay happened.

At the same time, White is a countywide elected official who, legally, is not required to answer to county board members. He could have refused to attend their meeting on Tuesday.

Instead, White had a conversation with the board and explained how outdated software has hampered the ability of his office to do the audit reports.

According to a story by our reporter Alicia Fabbre, White said the software previously used to extrapolate data needed for the audits was nearing the end of its useful life before 2020. He is working to find a solution.

By explaining the situation to the county board members, White makes it possible for them to help him. For example, White plans to request new software in the upcoming budget.

Meanwhile, Fabbre reported that county board members thanked White for his honesty and willingness to be held accountable. They also pointed to how that compares to the clerk’s office, which has declined to answer questions publicly at board meetings.

Indeed, DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek has missed opportunities to resolve an ongoing dispute over bills from her office that have not been paid.

Kaczmarek has argued that state law gives her the authority to run her office as she deems fit and says the county board cannot hold up bills for payment. However, the county board says the clerk has not submitted proper documentation with the unpaid bills and that some of the contracts were not put out for competitive bidding.

Now the state’s attorney’s office is preparing a civil complaint against the clerk’s office.

Maybe Kaczmarek should do what White did and explain her position to the county board. Then DuPage officials could avoid taking their differences to a courtroom.

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