A recent audit report of Vilas County, Wisconsin, called for the creation of a distinct finance department headed by a director, according to the Lakeland Times.
Although the county currently has an accounts payable department, its departmental organizational structure "does not clearly indicate the staff's responsibilities and authority pertaining to departmental accounting matters," the report found, as quoted by the news source.
Additionally, a lot of employees who take part in the accounting process do not have formal accounting backgrounds, and many were found to only be focused on tasks "as they affect their department." This leads to a disconnect that could have a negative effect on the overall financial operations of the county.
A finance department would centralize the accounting duties currently undertaken by county employees, upgrading the system where necessary to introduce more efficient software and facilitate the process of carrying out internal accounting controls such as accounts payable audits.
Proper integration between departments can significantly simplify the AP audit process, allowing for a comprehensive financial picture to come into focus. This can then be used to identify duplicate payments, inefficient processes and misappropriation.