World needs audits, and the auditors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thank God for accountants. No, this is not an advertisement for any of the fine local accounting firms. This is simply an acknowledgement of an underrated field that helps secure the public trust.

Accountants and auditors share the burden of lots of public stereotypes. We often call them by such loving monikers as &8220;bean counters&8221; or &8220;pencil pushers.&8221;

In our minds, we often view them as wearing pocket protectors and keeping constant numerical tabs on commonplace items such as one&8217;s exact gas mileage or the average weekly cost of one&8217;s toothpaste usage or some other seemingly obscure mathematical calculation.

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But simply dismissing them as people who incessantly calculate, figure and diddle with numbers is to avoid appreciating their greatest power &8212; keeping folks honest.

Public audits are one of the only ways the general public has to gauge how effectively its elected officials are spending tax dollars.

Lots of attention has been given to recent county audits and for good measure. The audit findings, even if some of them seem trivial in scope, are critical to making sure our government runs smoothly and honestly.

Auditors can take down the high and mighty, the dishonest and deceitful. And audits can simply point out flaws in the system &8212; even if not caused by dishonesty. Quite simply, as some folks say, &8220;the numbers don&8217;t lie.&8221;

Accountants may not reach heroic status in the minds of many, but in our minds, they are true crusaders of justice. To the &8220;bean counters&8221; out there, thanks for what you do.