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September 29, 2023

Sedona Fire District Irritated with McGladrey’s Lack of Expertise, Proofreading

This story is a bit stale, but we're running with it anyway. The Sedona, Arizona Fire District ("SFD") engaged McGladrey to perform a special audit to evaluate its management and spending. SFD paid $190,000 for the pleasure, and at a recent meeting of the Governing Board, it was expressed by SFD Business Manager Karen Daines that the District didn't get that much bang for its buck. Specifically, the lack of spellcheck/general proofreading was one problem:

Daines told Governing Board members she was asked to provide comments on the McGladrey report by SFD Governing Board member Ty Montgomery. She cited multiple errors in the report, as well as grammatical and spelling errors, and frustration in the level of staff involvement.
The implied, "you don't ask questions about our presentation," was another:
“Last month when the McGladrey team presented their report, staff was not permitted to ask questions or to comment on anything contained in their presentation or in the larger report,” Daines said[.] 
As well as the general sense that the firm basically re-did someone else's work:
[T]he recent audit was largely a duplication of effort similar to regular audits already performed of the district. She said McGladrey validated all the findings reported by the district’s past independent auditors.
Plus, Mickey G's overall lack of know-how was also pretty irritating:
“McGladrey is not a firm that is experienced in conducting managerial or service studies for fire and EMS agencies. In fact, this is the first study of this kind that these particular consultants had done,” Daines said.
The one auditor who was an alleged "expert" was "rarely present" but presumably this could be typical partner behavior.
Last thing that really grinded Daines' gears, was the handholding. Sure, on any engagement explaning otherwise obvious things to rubes may be warranted but she felt that the SFD was going above and beyond the normal amount of handholding:
SFD employees, she said, spent an “inordinate” amount of time educating accounts and business analysts on fire service, though she said the firm is highly qualified when it comes to financial audits. […] [M]any members of the staff bent over backwards for months to be incredibly responsive to anything the McGladrey team wanted or needed. We have estimated 1,200 staff hours invested in working with McGladrey,” Daines said.
Maybe this team didn't get their iPads yet. Those are helpful little tools, you know. 


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