Accountants at Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel, a local division of Warren Averett, LLC, were selected Monday morning by the City of Pensacola’s audit committee as the recommended firm to conduct the city’s mandated annual financial audit. The committee used a ranking process to select the WAOC accounting firm from among four others that submitted proposals to do the city’s auditing work. The committee ranked local firm Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund second. Mauldin & Jenkins, with offices located in Georgia and Alabama was ranked third, and Carr, Riggs & Ingram, with offices throughout Florida and the southeast, was ranked fourth.
Next Monday, June 11, the Committee of the Whole will receive the audit committee’s recommendation. Thereafter, in accordance with state statutes, the city council will begin contract negotiations for the auditing work with first-ranked firm Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel.
Throughout the auditor selection process, under the guidance of committee chair Diane Mack, the committee members have moved with thoroughness and efficiency to come up with their recommendation to the council. At the committee’s previous meeting on May 22, the four firms’ proposals for providing auditing services were distributed to the committee for evaluation and ranking. It was agreed at that meeting that the recommendations and votes for ranking the firms would be tallied at the committee meeting on June 4. Over the next 12 days, five of the six committee members evaluated the proposals in accordance with the previously established legal criteria, ranked the firms one through four using the established point system and returned for the vote June 4. Committee member and City Council President Sam Hall was a no-show.
At the meeting on Monday, prior to any discussion of the four firms and their proposals and prior to voting, committee members confirmed on the record that none of them had any conflict of interest in making a recommendation of any of the firms. The voting then proceeded with committee members stating aloud for the record the order in which each member had ranked the firms—with one being the best firm and four being the last place firm. Staff members present tallied the vote. After the first round of voting, two firms, Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel and Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund were tied for first place with scores of 10 each. To break the tie, Chairwoman Mack invited the committee members to comment more specifically on why each member had ranked the two first place firms the way they had. After discussion, a motion was made and seconded to rank WAOC in first place, Saltmarsh in second and Mauldin & Jenkins third. The vote was unanimous for the ranking.
With the rankings of the three firms and the agreement on the recommendation to be made to the city council on June 11, the committee had completed the state law required process of recommending an independent auditor to the city council. It took the audit committee just 18 days. In 18 days the committee reviewed and complied with state law mandated procedures for selecting an auditor, reviewed and ratified the previously issued RFP, evaluated proposals of four accounting firms, ranked the firms in accordance with a pre-determined point system and then made a recommendation to the city council.
After completing this selection process, the committee turned its attention to whether it should offer to play any further role in assisting the city council in its oversight of the auditing process.
“Is it the sense of the committee that we’re done with our work?” Mack asked.
The unanimous reply: “We’re done.”