Bob Grogan: Candidate profile, DuPage County Auditor
Republican Bob Grogan of Downers Grove and Democrat William "Bill" White of Downers Grove are vying for DuPage County Auditor in the Nov. 3 general election.
Grogan has served as the county auditor since 2008.
White is an attorney who has served on the Downers Grove District 99 school board and on the Downers Grove Village Council.
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A: I am running because I am a professional auditor, it is my trade. Being a CPA and a certified fraud examiner, I view serving as county auditor as the best way to combine my auditing skills with my passion for public service.
I am not running because they just needed someone to be on a ballot. I am motivated like any other professional, because I am good at what I do, enjoy making a difference, and continue to find ways to innovate.
Q: If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
A: Prior to this year, my most notable contributions have been in the area of transparency.
I was the first auditor in the state to put a County Checkbook online, followed by creating a Transparency Portal.
Also, I was the first in the state to create a county Audit Hotline, which has given us tips that have had real impacts.
This year, as with most businesses, COVID-19 has called on us to do our jobs differently.
My experience with federal grant auditing has been invaluable; for example, a need was identified for kids eligible under the subsidized lunch program to get home internet connectivity now that so many are in remote learning.
I was called in to assess this concept from its very inception and helped clear up several compliance issues that could have jeopardized the program's eligibility.
We were able to get a $1,500,000 appropriation passed by the county board and have the program up and running within a few short weeks of it being proposed, helping upward of 30,000 disadvantage students.
Q: What special qualifications does a county auditor need that may not apply to other county offices? What professional qualifications or experiences do you possess that will help ensure your success as auditor?
A: The county auditor of a large county, like DuPage, needs to be a professional auditor. They should have experience in government accounting, auditing, compliance, and investigations.
I am a certified public accountant and a certified fraud examiner, with two decades of audit experience.
Prior to serving at the county, I worked in public accounting performing audits of governments, nonprofits, and pension funds.
Additionally, throughout my auditing career, I have worked on a great number of federal grant audits (also known as single audits).
This has become vitally important as the county is dealing with the influx of $161,000,000 of federal Cares Act money to assist with the COVID-19 crisis.
Specific federal guidance has been both scarce and ambiguous.
Drawing on my prior federal grant experience has allowed me to assist the county in avoiding compliance pitfalls and ensuring that monies get out quicker to those that need it.
Because of my overall experience and qualifications, I am honored to have been elected by my peers to serve as the president of the Illinois County Auditors' Association.
Q: To what extent must an auditor remain independent of other county offices and officials, and how will you ensure the appropriate level of independence in this office?
A: Independence is always important, that is why all CPAs, like myself, are required in their code of conduct to maintain objectivity and independence. As an internal auditor, elected directly by the voters, it allows one to call balls and strikes.
Some try and make partisan affiliation as an implied lack of independence. It is important to avoid being too light on those with whom labels are shared and just as important to avoid being too hard on those of the other stripe.
Of course, it is possible that someone can confuse political interests with ethical interests. I would like to point to two recent cases in my track record to demonstrate my independence.
First, I have not singled out our Democratic Clerk for scrutiny beyond that of her Republican peers. Second, last year my office developed the significant information implicating Republican Bloomingdale Township Highway Commissioner Bob Czernek in possible criminal conduct, which led recently to his indictment. I believe I am guided by my integrity to independently call those balls and strikes as I see them without bias.
Q: Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the auditor's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A: The Auditor's office is DuPage's smallest elected office. The head count of seven has remained the same for many years despite the increased complexities in compliance and governmental accounting.
The office reviews in excess of 70,000 payable claims and regularly completes over 100 audits a year.
Additionally, because our office's reputation for integrity and knowledge, we are also called on to participate in numerous strategic initiatives that don't show up in conventional audit stats.
This year, the work on the federal COVID grant is an example.
In prior years, an example is the dissolution of the Highland Hills Sanitary District and subsequent merger with DuPage County. I collaborated for over a year in a working group that directed planning of this technically complex operational project.
My participation was important because of my strong knowledge of government accounting and compliance from the myriad of governments I have audited.
This project is already producing increased quality to and cost savings for water customers. No capital expenses are foreseen, nor personnel changes required.
Since my first year, I have reduced my non-personnel budget by over 50%.