McGuirk files as candidate for Multnomah County Auditor



Sept. 7, 2017

Portland -- Jennifer McGuirk, a professional auditor with a Master’s in Public Administration,  today filed to run for Multnomah County Auditor. A County staff auditor since December 2012, McGuirk is running to lead the office because she wants to to promote government accountability and equity.

“Auditing addresses the root causes of the big issues facing our community. If voters choose me to be the next Multnomah County Auditor, I will focus on auditing programs that directly impact people, particularly the most vulnerable members of society.”

McGuirk lists three areas she will prioritize in her first year as Auditor: County jail conditions, access to housing and homeless services and the Good Government Hotline.  

“There have been credible reports about disproportional use of force against people of color in our county jails, as well as reports of inhumane treatment of people with mental illness,” McGuirk said. “County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Sheriff Mike Reese have committed to making changes, but it will be a long-term process that regular auditing can help guide.”

Homelessness, rent stabilization, and housing stabilization are complicated problems that require sophisticated solutions. Although the County Auditor’s Office has audited housing and homeless services twice in the last five years, neither audit included the voices of people who need county help to find or stay in stable housing.

“My office will audit the housing and homeless services system from the client perspective,” McGuirk said. “It is important for decision-makers and the public to know what it is like for people to access the system, if we are going to make sure that the millions of taxpayer dollars going toward housing and homelessness are being effectively and efficiently spent.”

Because the City of Portland is a partner in the County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services, McGuirk also pledged to coordinate with Portland City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero in order to ensure the most efficient use of auditing resources.

The County Auditor operates the Good Government Hotline for county employees and community members to report possible fraud and waste of county government resources.

While the hotline is a critical county resource, it gets relatively few calls or clicks each year because few people know if its existence.

“The Good Government Hotline needs a re-boot. It’s critically important that County employees and members of the public know that they can report inappropriate use of County funds and services.”

One of the most important responsibilities of the Auditor is deciding which programs to audit. Performance audits typically take about a year to complete in order to meet rigorous professional standards. That means Multnomah County needs an Auditor who will use those resources wisely to audit programs in need of serious review.  

“The elected auditor decides where we will give our attention and dig deep,” McGuirk said. “There is power in choosing what needs to be audited, and with it comes a great responsibility to our community.  I believe that means prioritizing audits of programs that directly affect people's health and safety.”

McGuirk promised to bring a different approach to choosing which programs to focus on.

Traditionally, auditors prioritize auditing the programs that present the highest risk. What they usually mean by that is programs with the biggest budgets. How the county spends tax dollars is extremely important, but so are the health and safety of the people who need county services.

Multnomah County provides critical safety net services to the most vulnerable in our community, including people with disabilities, seniors, the indigent and struggling working class, LGBTQIA people, people of color, immigrants, and those who are incarcerated.

“That’s why I believe the highest possible risk is the potential for people to be harmed. In my opinion, this risk hasn’t been the high priority that it should be,” McGuirk said. “The county provides a wide range of social services and public safety programs that directly impact people’s health and well-being. Reducing the risk for harm will guide my time in office.

“If I am elected Auditor, the entire community will be my boss. I want to create ways for people to be involved in the work the office does on your behalf, so I will start a practice of community engagement for the office. I will hold at least two town halls each year in all corners of the county, and I will regularly attend a variety of community group meetings to learn about the issues that matter most to you. Your concerns will guide my audit work. At our town halls and through social media, I will report back to you on the work I am doing as your County Auditor.”