As we transition from autumn into winter, I hope this month’s newsletter finds you well. For me, last week was a time to gather with family and friends, to share food and cultivate gratitude. It was also a time to to honor the land and cultures of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who have made, and continue to make, their homes along the Columbia River. This last year has cast a light on the cruelty and brutality of our nation’s history in the uncovering of hundreds of graves at Native American boarding school sites in both Canada and the United States. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the painful facts. But facts are an integral part of justice. It’s important to uncover these truths so we can face them and address the harm caused.
As Margaret Jacobs writes in this piece in the Washington Post on how to address the reality of racism and genocide in American history, “transforming our nation means embedding truth-seeking, accountability and reconciliation efforts at all levels of society.” My office’s work is grounded in this truth-seeking, and in facts. Our work is to hold government accountable, for the sake of making our county government more effective, and for the sake of the health and well-being of all those who live, work and play on these lands. And in turn, I am accountable to you.
One important way to facilitate that accountability is through transparency. Based on the guidance of my Community Advisory Committee, my office now creates a webpage for every audit while we're working on it. Each page includes the audit start letter, which gives a general overview of the audit's intent. When we determine our audit objectives, we will post those on the webpage too. And we will also post other audit communications and the report. My office's goal with these new web pages is to be more transparent with you and more accountable to you about the work we are conducting on your behalf.
One of the new audit webpages we created was for the audit of the county’s management of pandemic funds. Today, I posted to that webpage our audit report. We assessed the county’s pandemic-related spending during fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), particularly its use of federal, state, and local aid, such as federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding. The report includes visualizations that people can interact with to learn about the county’s pandemic-related spending.
The audit team looked at what the county spent the funding on, and which provider organizations received pandemic funding from the county; the county’s efforts to distribute funds in alignment with its stated commitment to leading with race; and procurement, contracting, purchasing, and inventory policies and procedures. Audit work included reviewing all county expenditures coded as pandemic-related for FY2021, reviewing emergency procurement authorizations, and conducting a survey of providers that received pandemic-related funding from the county. We conducted this audit to support transparent and accountable government operations during this unprecedented time. Even during times of crisis, it is critical that the public knows where their government is spending funds, who is receiving those funds, and how that spending aligns with the government’s stated core values.
Helpful COVID-19 Links
- COVID-19 rent relief information for Multnomah County residents: Found out how to apply for emergency rent assistance.
- Complete list of current Multnomah County vaccination clinics, along with information about who is eligible (everyone!), accessing support for language access and for seniors, and information about the vaccination process.
- Information on the 2021 mask mandate
- If you would like information on how to stay healthy, slow the spread of the virus, or how to report any issues, please visit https://multco.us/novel-coronavirus-covid-19.
- Unfortunately, some communities have experienced acts of racism and xenophobia because of the myths surrounding COVID-19; this county site has information about how to report discrimination and find support.
- If you are at work and your employer does not seem to be following public health directives, you can report that to Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Division.
- This page contains resources to support our communities as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic and get through this together.
- Learn more about COVID-19 community and business guidance from Multnomah County.
- Learn more about disability rights and COVID-19.