Citizen involvement in government is a good thing … up to a point. Too much involvement can make government unwieldy, as elected officials must listen to and consider many voices, relevant or not, before they can act. To do otherwise would offend participants and, more specifically, make the citizen participation approach to governance meaningless.
This is just one reason why the Ocean Pines Board of Directors made the right call when it rejected the suggestion that a committee be formed to contribute to the upcoming forensic audit of the association’s finances.
The auditors, Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, must first address the black-and-white world of the numbers, where opinions don’t matter. Not to trivialize the laboriously detailed task of following the money, but the bottom line is exactly that, the bottom line. Either it adds up or it doesn’t.
The firm’s representatives don’t need advice on how to go about that, nor do they need the distraction of suggestions where this or that might have happened. Although the auditors surely have their own way of doing things, it’s safe to say that the level of their scrutiny will be akin to picking each bone out of an otherwise clean-looking fish filet.
At the end of that round, they will know what, if anything, they don’t know, which is when citizen involvement could become more important. But since Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates have done all this many times before, they should be allowed to proceed unfettered until they arrive at their own conclusions.
This doesn’t mean that property owners shouldn’t know what’s happening and how, but they should wait until the results are in, rather than try to guide the auditors to any specific destination.
Auditing is a science, not an art. If at the end of their examination they have questions, that’s when they might be able to use some help.