Thursday, October 7, 2010

Special Advisory Reports

The Denver Auditor's Office has initiated a special service for city agencies which can provide information based on a limited review or time-critical assessement. Special Audit Advisories are not in full compliances with auditing standards, they are non-audit services which can further the accountabillity of the city by providing a reporting vehicle that is flexible, timely, and focused on a singular issue.

Our staff recently issued a special advisory report to the administration of Denver International Airport. The information provided in the report was developed during a a performance audit of the Department of Aviation's safety culture.

The report emphasized the importance of a holistic approach to safety. The report defined safety culture as "those aspects of the organizational culture which will impact on attitudes and behavior related to increasing or decreasing risk." A footnote in the reprot identifies this quote to G. W. Guldenmund in an article in Safety Science entitled "The nature of safety culture, a review of theory and research."

The report's research showed light on two important elements for estblishing an effective safety culture. Firstly senior management must embrace and make a long-term commitment to safety. Second, the report pointed out that employees are an important source for safety ideas. The participation of employees, those on the front lines of action at the airport are crutial to making sure a safety culture is maintained at the highest level at the airport.

Additionally, the research "revealed insights into the importance of training, the best ways to develop leading indicators of safety performance, and how the organizational structure should reflect a commitment to safety."

Citizens can read the SAR Special Advisory Report on the Auditor's webpage:

Special Advisory Reports serve as great tools, like picks and shovels to an archeologist, to help change the culture at the city to one of accountability. I often wonder if I should not have majored in anthropology in order to be a better auditor, a better cultural change agent in our city. But studying Classical Languages, as I happily did, certainly gives anyone a good foundation to understand and change organizational cultures.

We look forward to picking away at apathy and shovel away obstacles to organizational accountabillity at our city.

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