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Buncombe County Employees Ongoing Efforts to Bolster Fraud Detection Skills

Examining blinds spots and system inefficiencies is an ongoing job. On June 30, employees from Finance, Budget, Performance Management, and other Departments attended a two-day training session entitled Managing Risk with Effective Internal Controls and is part of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), a joint initiative to combat corporate fraud.

County Finance Controller Jennifer Durrett explains: “The training really challenged each of us to think about what risk looks like in our job, what fraud would look like coming across our desk.”

The training is the first of its kind as County employees become more familiar with the safeguard features of the newly administered COSO Framework of Internal Control, an initiative approved by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in 2017. In short, the COSO Framework of Internal Control enables organizations to effectively and efficiently develop systems that adapt to changing business and operating environments, mitigate risks to acceptable levels, and support sound decision making and governance of the organization.

“We discussed items such as reviewing beyond the approval, asking challenging questions, and emphasized the importance of communication,” notes Durrett. “These guidelines will allow County staff to more accurately assess risk in their area and will give them a tool to address that risk as well as empower them to know that they are an integral part of County operations and have a responsibility and an opportunity to weigh in.”

The training resonated with County Accountant Autumn Lyvers who says, “It’s up to the entire organization to be vigilant for irregularities. I now think about what fraud would look like if it came across my desk and how I would address it. I feel more empowered to speak up and ask challenging questions,” says Lyvers.  

Business Intelligence Analyst Alexander Nemeth says the training reinforced the notion that internal controls need to always be evaluated. “There are not strict rules to follow as every situation is different… We shouldn’t just rely on the internal auditing department. Everyone, in their day to day job, should be on the lookout for potential risks and how those risks can be mitigated.”

This training confirmed some of the practices already employed by the County while also giving us a greater awareness of our responsibilities. As we continue through our COSO implementation, our employees are dedicated to performing continual risk assessment and process evaluation in their areas.