2020 Annual Report

Our work matters. We serve the people of Denver by championing accountability in our audit work and through education and enforcement of wage law on behalf of everyone who lives and works here. After another year of meaningful work by the Auditor’s Office, I am pleased to present the 2020 Annual Report.

In this report, you will find summaries of our audits and highlights and impacts identified from our follow-up work, as well as the achievements of my exemplary staff as they serve the people of Denver, further their professional development and represent our office in the community. This report showcases the many accomplishments of Audit Services and Denver Labor’s Prevailing Wage and Minimum Wage divisions.

Auditor’s Letter

In any given year, transparency, accountability, and good stewardship of public resources are the backbone of good government. In challenging years like 2020, our work in these areas is indispensable. We serve the people of Denver by championing accountability in our audit work and through education and enforcement of wage laws on behalf of everyone who lives and works here. 

In 2020, we worked effectively despite significant and unexpected challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget shortfalls. In this 2020 Annual Report, I am pleased to present a look back at our work and how it served our community. 

In this report, you will find summaries of our audits and highlights and impacts identified from our follow-up work. We also provide a detailed look at Denver Labor’s record-breaking success in getting people paid and supporting employers as they comply with Denver’s wage laws. This Annual Report also serves as our annual Denver Labor Wages Report on our minimum wage and prevailing wage efforts. We also share the achievements of my exemplary staff, and how we maintain open communication with all members of our diverse community. 

First, let me extend my appreciation to Mayor Michael B. Hancock, the Denver City Council, the Audit Committee, and members of the city’s operational management for supporting our mission throughout the year.

As an independent agency, we take an objective look at how public money is used and how efficient and effective the city’s services are for the people of Denver. Our work is performed on behalf of everyone who cares about the city, including its residents, workers, and decision-makers. Our mission is to deliver independent, transparent, and professional oversight in order to safeguard the public’s investment in the City and County of Denver.

In the past year, we examined city agencies based on concerns we heard from the public and others, as well as our own risk assessments and analyses. In 2020, we shifted to working from home and didn’t miss a beat in holding the city accountable. 

One of the audits we received the most requests for from the public was our audit of the city’s Neighborhood Sidewalk Repair Program. My audit team found the program was expected to miss its schedule by decades and wasn’t designed to be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act best practices. The city’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure cannot ensure sidewalk repairs are meeting all relevant standards and that the program is reaching its intended outcomes. I was pleased agency officials are ready to make changes and find solutions to make these public spaces accessible for everyone and to improve equal access to affordability options for sidewalk repairs across the city. 

Another audit that directly impacted how the public successfully interacts with the city was our assessment of how city agencies manage and respond to open records requests. We found city leaders needed to do more to fully and transparently respond to open records requests from the public. The city was inconsistent in how it fulfilled records requests. Deficiencies in Denver’s open records response process hinder the public’s ability to confidently submit requests. I believe the city’s records are really the people of Denver’s records. Unless prohibited by law, we should be making it easy and clear for people to find information about what their government is doing. I was disappointed with the Mayor’s Office’s disagreement and unwillingness to take simple steps to improve transparency. 

However, we did see some progress from city leaders on another important issue: taxpayer-funded nonprofits. In 2020, we completed our second audit of one of these organizations, which were approved by voters and are funded by dedicated taxes as they operate as independent nonprofits. Our audit of the Caring for Denver program — which supports efforts to address mental health issues and substance misuse — found the program was leaving millions of dollars unused and that it lacked a clear strategy and goals. City leaders agreed to develop a strategic plan and review and revise the program’s financial management policies. 

We also completed a follow-up assessment of our first audit of a tax-funded initiative: the Denver Preschool Program. We found the city implemented every recommendation we made, allowing the nonprofit to do more to support kids in our community. I plan to audit more of these types of programs sooner rather than later, in the hope of making sure the city is setting up these nonprofits for success as they use millions of dollars in tax revenue. 

The Audit Committee continues to contribute valuable feedback on findings from performance and financial audits and the risks found through audit analytics work. I’m pleased with the fine work my Audit Analytics Team does to use innovative data and continuous auditing techniques. Our substantive and impactful audit work helps make our government better. 

Meanwhile, Denver Labor had a record year — recovering more lost wages for workers than ever and finding even more new ways to educate employers despite the gathering and training restrictions that were necessary during the pandemic.. 

Every penny matters in a recession like we all faced this past year. Our minimum wage and prevailing wage teams recovered more than $1 million in restitution in 2020 — money that went back to workers who should have received the correct wages in their paychecks. 

Thanks to our team of analysts, we also recovered restitution for the largest number of underpaid employees ever uncovered in a single wage investigation by our office. Nearly 850 workers for one employer got paid for wages they should have received under Denver’s citywide minimum wage. We were able to work with the employer to get the backpay returned to the employees without needing to pursue any fines or attorney’s fees. 

My goal is to get money to workers according to the law, not to punish employers for an honest mistake. Our office frequently works to find solutions that will bring employers into compliance without putting them out of business. Among those proactive efforts, we began live weekly training sessions called “Wages Wednesday.” Anyone can watch these trainings live or as recordings on our Facebook page — and they can ask questions in English and Spanish. These — along with other specialized trainings for community groups and employers and other virtual events — allowed our team to build relationships and answer questions despite the obstacles the pandemic created. 

We continue to work hard to engage the people we work for: the public. We believe the people of Denver have a right to know what we do on their behalf and what their government is doing for them. As a result, we continue to find creative ways to reach all parts of our community on their terms. In 2020, we expanded our Spanish language outreach, attended and hosted virtual events and training sessions, continued our monthly “Ask the Auditor” video series, and reimagined our monthly email newsletter in both English and Spanish. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Nextdoor, and LinkedIn for updates from our office, or email auditor@denvergov.org to share your thoughts, concerns, or questions. Read this Annual Report in Spanish on our website.;

I am very proud of my team’s accomplishments and of our efforts to work with city agencies and residents, employers and employees, to ensure a better Denver for everyone. 


Auditor's Signature

Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA

Report Details 

Who We Are

Office of the Auditor

The mission of the Auditor’s Office is to deliver independent, transparent, and professional oversight in order to safeguard and improve the public’s investment in Denver. Our work is performed on behalf of everyone who cares about the city, including its residents, workers, and decision-makers.

Denver’s Auditor is unique because Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, was elected by the people and is independent from all other citywide elected officials and city operational management. He works independently from Mayor Hancock’s office and the City Council to maintain objectivity and offer frank, truthful reports for the betterment of Denver. Auditor O’Brien was elected to a four-year term in 2015 and re-elected for a second term in 2019.

The Denver Charter provides for the Auditor to conduct:

  • Financial and performance audits of the City and County of Denver and its departments and agencies in accordance with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards;
  • Audits of individual financial transactions, contracts and franchises of the City and County; and
  • Audits of the financial accounting systems and procedures administered by the Manager of Finance and other departments and agencies of the City and County, including records systems, revenue identification and accounting, and payment practices.

The Denver Charter mandates the Auditor follow the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards published by the U.S. Comptroller General, as well as financial management best practices and any applicable laws and regulations governing the financial practices of Denver.

Denver’s charter further requires Auditor O’Brien to countersign all city contracts to ensure no liability is incurred, no money is disbursed, and no city property is disposed of in a manner contrary to law.

The Auditor’s Office also oversees enforcement of the city’s minimum wages, prevailing wage, and living wage ordinances.

Denver Labor a division of the Auditor’s Office, promotes lawful employment and wage compliance while providing exceptional labor, wage, and hourly enforcement. Our goal is to protect Denver’s employers and employees through education and ensuring everyone is paid according to the law.

That means Auditor O’Brien works with both employers and employees to ensure every worker is paid according to the law. The office does outreach and works individually with contractors to help them understand these laws. Analysts also help identify workers’ correct prevailing wage classifications. New in 2020, the office’s Denver Labor division oversaw education and enforcement of the citywide minimum wage law.

The Auditor is chairman of the Audit Committee, whose primary task is to annually commission an independent external audit of Denver. In addition, results of the external audit and all audits performed by the Auditor’s Office are presented to the Audit Committee. To ensure the committee’s independence, the mayor, the City Council, and Auditor O’Brien each appoint two members for four-year terms.

Audit Services

The Audit Services Division produces independent financial and performance audits and other types of assessments of city agencies, programs, finances, technology, and contracts. The resulting recommendations from our work helps strengthen governance, improve performance, enhance efficiency, increase revenues, reduce costs and risks, and improve the quality of services for Denver.

Performance audits review the efficiency and effectiveness of agencies’ work, as well as the overall use of Denver tax dollars. Financial audits take a close look at an agency’s records and processes to identify errors in reporting and payments and other risks to the city and its reputation. Meanwhile, contract compliance audits determine whether a third-party vendor — and/or a city agency — is following the terms of a contract. Information technology audits review the controls and operation of the city’s network, software applications, and cybersecurity processes to make sure they are operating correctly.

Our continuous auditing and audit analytics programs help identify high-risk areas of the city by repeatedly performing updated analyses of transactional data from different city databases. Using automation, we sort through thousands of data entries, rather than rely only on a random sample. This helps inform our risk assessments for current or future audits and can help us focus on areas of higher concern. The resulting reports provide us with timely feedback of anomalies or outliers in the city’s processes and transactions.

Key audits completed this year included a report calling for better and more consistent transparency for the public through the management of open records requests. We also encouraged the city to maintain a comprehensive real estate portfolio so city resources could be used more efficiently and effectively. Our audit teams found the city needed to enhance the safety and security of city facilities, and they identified areas where the city could do more to encourage contracts with minority and women-owned businesses. An audit of the Denver Board of Ethics found the board lacks authority and is unable to ensure ethical behavior across agencies. And we made recommendations to help the city get its decades-behind-schedule sidewalk repair program back on the path to accessibility for all Denver residents.

A follow-up assessment is performed after the last implementation date given by agencies in response to recommendations in each audit. The follow-up reports confirm whether the agreed-upon recommendations were indeed implemented. We follow up on every audit to see whether our recommendations are implemented and our findings are impactful.

Auditor O’Brien also contracts with professional service firms to work with our teams as a co-source or to provide third-party audits and engagements where specialized expertise is needed, such as in a particular industry or technical discipline. This is a cost-effective and efficient way to complete specialized work such as cybersecurity audits or actuarial work, among other areas of focus. Hiring these firms on a contract basis allows our office to expand its range of audits while using taxpayer funds prudently.

Audit Commitee

Auditor O’Brien is the chairman of the independent Audit Committee, which meets monthly. The other six members of the committee are appointed to four-year terms. Members are appointed based on education or experience in accounting, auditing, financial management, or related fields.

The primary responsibility of the Audit Committee is to commission an annual independent external audit of the city’s finances. The Audit Committee receives the results of audits, assessments, and examinations performed or commissioned by the Auditor’s Office, and the results of the annual external audits. In addition to the audits of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the Single Audit report of major grant programs, an external CPA firm audits two enterprise fund agencies — Denver International Airport and the Wastewater Management Enterprise Fund. An external firm also audits the Deferred Compensation Plan Trust Fund. Auditor O’Brien and the Audit Committee receive and review the results of these audits and assessments.

All audit reports and committee minutes are published, and the committee meetings are televised on Denver8 TV. Audit Committee meetings went virtual in 2020 thanks to the hard work of the audit teams, Audit Committee members, and the team at Denver8 TV.

Audit Committee Members

  • Rudolfo (Rudy) Payan, Vice-Chairman (appointed by Auditor O’Brien)
  • Jack Blumenthal (appointed by Auditor O’Brien)
  • Leslie Mitchell (appointed by City Council)
  • Florine Nath (appointed by City Council)
  • Charles Scheibe (appointed by Mayor Hancock)
  • Edward Scholz (appointed by Mayor Hancock)

Contract Administration

The City and County of Denver enters into thousands of contracts every year, and the Denver Charter mandates Auditor O’Brien review and sign every city contract to ensure any liability incurred, any money disbursed, or any property disposed of is done so according to the law.

Auditor O’Brien believes progress in the city should not be held up by processes and paperwork. As a result, he works to get contracts signed more quickly while still ensuring a thorough review.

Denver contracts can range from zero dollar park rentals to multimillion-dollar technology purchases or construction projects. The Auditor’s Office continues to perform contract compliance, financial and specialty audits, evaluations, and assessments of selected contracts we identify through ongoing monitoring of citywide risks. Auditor O’Brien believes the city has a responsibility to oversee contracts to confirm third parties uphold their agreements and spend taxpayer dollars as promised.

Community Outreach

The Denver Auditor and his communications team believe in transparency and accountability in local government. As a check and balance on the “strong mayor system,” we work on behalf of taxpayers to make sure residents know what is happening in the city. This year, Auditor O’Brien continued to fulfill his promise to keep the public informed by continuing to explore new ways to reach members of the community where they are and in ways they can understand — in English and Spanish, through social media, a dynamic website, a successful e-newsletter, videos, media outreach, and many forms of printed informational materials.

The Auditor’s community outreach efforts ensure the important work of the office is more widely known and understood. This year, our team attended virtual meetings with neighborhood and community groups and others to discuss audit and wage enforcement work. The public is also invited to participate on social media platforms: Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter, LinkedIn, and, Instagram for both the Auditor’s Office and Denver Labor. We post unique content on different platforms about community events, important city updates, audit information, labor and wage developments, and other key communications.

The Auditor also continues to emphasize visual media, including an ongoing initiative to bring information about auditing and wage enforcement to YouTube and local television through Denver8 TV. This year, we shared on Denver8 TV, YouTube, our website, and social media our monthly public service announcements about how the office works and about important takeaways from audits on “Ask the Auditor.” The Auditor also expanded our graphics and visualization capabilities for audit reports and public communications to improve residents’ understanding of our work.

The multi-platform approach to outreach helps the Auditor’s Office maintain two-way communication with the people it serves. Residents provide valuable information about what is and is not working in the city. The Auditor always wants to hear from constituents. You are encouraged to contact the office by phone, by email, or at community meetings. You can also join our conversations about current city updates on Facebook or our other social media platforms.

@DenverAuditor | @DenverLabor

2020 Audits and Follow-ups

2020 Audit Reports and Follow-ups

Airport Capital Assets

Audit: December 2020(PDF, 7MB)

Property Tax Spending for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Audit: August 2019

Follow-up: December 2020(PDF, 1MB)

Neighborhood Sidewalk Repair Program

Audit: November 2020(PDF, 8MB)

Denver Preschool Program

Audit: October 2019(PDF, 14MB)

Follow-up: November 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Halcyon Construction Inc. On-Call Contract

Audit: March 2019(PDF, 44MB)

Follow-up: November 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Denver County Courts – Court Operations

Audit: December 2018(PDF, 6MB)

Follow-up: November 2020(PDF, 1MB)

Urban Area Security Initiative Grant

Audit: October 2019(PDF, 10MB)

Follow-up: November 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Caring For Denver

Audit: October 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Travel Expenses

Audit: October 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Prevailing Wage Rate Determination Process

Audit: September 2020(PDF, 2MB)

National Western Center – Hensel Phelps Construction Contract

Audit: September 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Data Centers

Audit: January 2019(PDF, 17MB)

Follow-up: September 2020(PDF, 1MB)

Workers’ Compensation Program

Audit: October 2018(PDF, 5MB)

Follow-up: September 2020(PDF, 1MB)

2020 Mid-Year Audit Analytics Update

Report: August 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Report: January 2020(PDF, 1MB)

Syringe Access and Sharps Disposal Programs

Audit: August 2020(PDF, 4MB)

Employment Services Cluster Grants

Audit: August 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant

Audit: August 2020(PDF, 4MB)

DIA – Airport Security

Audit: September 2018(PDF, 2MB)

Follow-up: August 2020(PDF, 1MB)

Minority/ Women and/ or Disadvantaged Business Program

Audit: June 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Library Financial Processes

Audit: June 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Safety and Security of City Facilities

Audit: June 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Workday User Access Controls

Audit: April 2019(PDF, 5MB)

Follow-up: June 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Affordable Housing

Audit: December 2018(PDF, 4MB)

Follow-up: June 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Patch Management

Audit: May 2020(PDF, 2MB)

City Real Estate Portfolio Practices

Audit: May 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Open Records Request Process

Audit: May 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Marijuana Taxation

Audit: April 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Wastewater Management Contractor Practices

Audit: July 2017(PDF, 2MB)

Follow-up: April 2020(PDF, 2MB)

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Grant

Audit: March 2020(PDF, 4MB)

Capital Assets

Audit: April 2018(PDF, 3MB)

Follow-up: March 2020(PDF, 2MB)

Special Revenue Funds

Audit: October 2017(PDF, 5MB)

Follow-up: March 2020(PDF, 1MB)

Board of Ethics and Clerk and Recorder’s Office

Audit: February 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Public Works Asset Management Software Applications

Audit: January 2020(PDF, 3MB)

Department of Finance and Public Works – Debt Management

Audit: May 2018(PDF, 2MB)

Follow-up: January 2020(PDF, 862KB)

Denver Labor - Wages Report

About Denver Labor

Denver Labor Organizational Chart Denver Labor works to foster community relationships with businesses and labor organizations and educate our diverse community on labor issues. We audit 100% of certified payrolls and investigate 100% of wage complaints.

The Denver City Council passed a local minimum wage ordinance on Nov. 25, 2019. In 2020, the ordinance set the hourly citywide minimum wage at $12.85. In 2021, the ordinance requires that wage rate to increase to $14.77 per hour. Both the separate minimum wage for city contractors and the prevailing wage rate still apply as determined by law. Denver Labor will continue efforts in 2021 for both education and enforcement of all wage laws through payroll auditing, wage investigations, and outreach.

In 2020, our team of skilled minimum wage analysts demonstrated leadership and innovation as they launched new efforts to begin protecting the minimum pay of every employee in the city and county. Executive Director Jeffrey Garcia and our team of analysts developed a new complaint-based system to investigate possible underpayments. The citywide minimum wage took effect for the first time at the start of the year and our team was ready to go on Day 1.

The citywide minimum wage was $12.85 per hour, with few exceptions. City leaders estimated more than 50,000 workers were impacted by the wage increase. Our team worked to educate employers and employees about the law, and we conducted dozens of investigations based on complaints.

During the 2019 legislative session, the Colorado Legislature enacted a law permitting local governments to set a jurisdiction wide minimum wage. In November 2019, the Denver City Council created Denver Revised Municipal Code Chapter 33.7-16, which sets the local minimum wage for Denver and prescribes the means for setting, enforcing, and complying with the new local minimum wage.

Our office believes education for the public and for employers is the key to a successful citywide minimum wage ordinance. This year, we held nearly 30 live training sessions called “Wages Wednesday” related to all of Denver’s wage laws, what the laws mean for employees and employers, and how they can stay in compliance. We made these virtual trainings accessible by conducting them in both English and Spanish and making our bilingual staff available to answer questions in either language. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to hold virtual events, community meetings, and training sessions throughout the year.

We also offer several useful tools for both employers and employees on our website — including a regional address finder to help determine whether work performed was within the boundaries of the City and County of Denver, a minimum wage and tip calculator, an employer underpayment calculator, and complaint forms in English and in Spanish.

Our minimum wage team also worked to educate employees and employers about and enforce the city’s contractor minimum wage, which impacted hundreds of workers particularly at Denver International Airport. The contractor minimum wage rate in- creased on July 1 to $14 per hour and will go up again on July 1, 2021, to $15 per hour. Workers covered by the contractor minimum wage work on city projects in concessions, catering, maintenance, ramp and cargo work at the airport, hospitality, security, and other jobs on city property.

Denver Labor Wage Timeline

Minimum Wage Restitution Stories

Minimum Wage Complaint Leads to Pay for Hundreds
Denver Labor worked with an employer to get nearly 850 underpaid people the wages they earned. It was the single largest number of underpaid employees we’ve ever uncovered in a wage investigation. The restitution totaled $130,442, and the employer agreed to pay every single employee their backpay and they agreed to start paying Denver’s minimum wage going forward

National Retailer Pays Restitution in Full
A large national retail store is near the border of Denver and Littleton in the Marston neighborhood. Mistakenly believing it was not subject to Denver’s citywide minimum wage, the company continued paying its employees below the $12.85 per hour required wage. For the first six weeks after the new minimum wage law went into effect, there was an underpayment of more than $7,000 to almost 70 employees. The company paid restitution in full, and all employees at the store are now being paid at least $12.85 per hour.

Minimum Wage Ensured for All Ages
A local ice cream shop mistakenly believed it did not have to pay the citywide minimum wage to employees under 18, resulting in an underpayment of about $300 for six employees. Unless minors are part of a city-certified youth employment program, they must be paid the minimum wage.

Denver Labor Checks the Math
A national restaurant was not paying the correct minimum wages for its tipped and nontipped employees. Upon notice that it was not paying Denver’s citywide minimum wage, the restaurant attempted to complete backpay to all employees. When Denver Labor reviewed payroll documents and proof of backpay to confirm, we discovered another $1,400 that was still owed. After working with the company, 32 employees received a total of more than $3,600 in unpaid wages.

Marijuana Dispensary Workers Get Pay Raise
A cannabis dispensary was mistakenly underpaying its retail clerks and growers working in multiple locations within the City and County of Denver. Upon being informed of its obligation to pay $12.85 per hour for anyone working in Denver, the company raised the affected employees’ wages and paid all owed restitution. Twenty employees were paid a total of almost $4,000 in unpaid wages.

Prevailing Wage

Every year, the city takes on billions of dollars’ worth of new projects and construction. The Auditor’s prevailing wage team works with both contractors and workers on all Denver projects to ensure compliance and payment according to the law. We have enforced prevailing wage requirements in Denver since the 1950s. Auditor O’Brien changed the way Denver does business on all projects and changed how work is per- formed on city property by revamping the city’s Prevailing Wage Ordinance in 2016. Now, his growing team works to bring all parties together to make Denver an efficient and good place to work.

In 2020, Denver Labor broke a record for the most restitution recovered for workers — surpassing $1 million.

Contractors and subcontractors doing work at or in connection with the operation of any public building or conducting public work on behalf of the City and County of Denver must pay their workers at least prevailing wage. Prevailing wage is required on contracts of $2,000 or more for construction, improvement, repair, maintenance, demolition, or janitorial work.

Wage reporting software, easy-to-use tutorial videos, and public question-and- answer sessions all help streamline the process. The simplified process aims to reduce the burden on contractors and encourages more of them to seek work with the city. Our analysts work with employees to ensure the employees are classified correctly, and we also work with employers to guide them through the reporting process.

The role of the Prevailing Wage Division includes education as well as enforcement.

Prevailing Wage Restitution Stories

Here are some examples of how we worked with both employers and employees this year to recover unpaid wages in accordance with the Prevailing Wage Ordinance:

$270,000 Recovered for Airport Workers
Denver Labor was contacted by an employee who had concerns about his fringe benefits. After conducting an investigation that included meeting with the employer and the employees’ union, a labor analyst was able to identify a significant underpayment to workers at Denver International Airport— including the need for $270,000 in restitution to a union pension plan. The employer was highly cooperative, and all parties are working together to ensure restitution is paid.

Denver Labor Works with Contractor to Get Correct Payment
After failing to submit certified payroll for nine months, an asphalt company submitted the proper documents. We found the contractor underpaid seven employees by a total of more than $18,000. Initially, the contractor calculated the restitution owed as greater than the actual amount due. But our office worked with the contractor to calculate the correct amount so they could pay the actual restitution owed.

Worker Receives Almost $2,000 in Owed Wages
A large earth-moving contractor employing power equipment operators and laborers paid more than $15,000 in total restitution to 37 employees. Our analysts determined the company was claiming unapproved fringe benefits, resulting in a failure to meet prevailing wage requirements. One trackhoe operator received almost $2,000 in backpay.

Denver Labor 2020 Restitution Chart

Minimum Wage Results




  Cases Opened    Closed With Restitution     Closed - No Underpayment     Current Cases  


Prevailing Wage Results






  Certified Payroll Audit Rate   Payrolls Audited     Restitution Paid ($)      Employees on Audited Payrolls     Project Payroll Value ($)  


Professional Details

As an accomplished Certified Public Accountant with more than 40 years of auditing experience, Auditor O’Brien values the professional development and growth of his entire staff. Audit team members met high standards again this year through continued professional learning and achievements, industry conferences, staff presentations, involvement in professional organizations, and community contributions.

Professional Accomplishments

In 2020, our office — like others in the city — faced new and unexpected professional challenges, including adjusting to remote working, continuing to engage with agencies and the public, learning new video conferencing technology, and juggling the unexpected demands of family and work during the pandemic. The Audit Committee’s monthly meeting has been broadcast remotely since March, so we could continue to share important information about our findings and recommendations. And, our Denver Labor team found ways to get restitution to employees without needing in-person contact in many cases.

Auditor O’Brien was especially proud this year of his office, which managed to keep productivity up even as he and all staff members took furloughs and faced other new challenges, we served the people of Denver through thoughtful auditing and hard work, even in the face of adversity.

Auditor O’Brien is a certified public accountant with more than 40 years of auditing experience. He recognizes the importance of professional development, of continuous learning throughout a career, and of serving the community in the office and beyond. Auditor’s Office team members met high standards again this year through continued professional learning and achievements, industry conferences, staff presentations, involvement in professional organizations, and community contributions.

Auditing Accomplishments

Audit Services, under the leadership of Auditor O’Brien and Deputy Auditor Valerie Walling, completed impactful, substantial work on behalf of the people of Denver. Our office integrated the auditing specialties and experience of all our auditors, along with Audit Directors Katja Freeman and Dawn Wiseman, to ensure success and impact of our work. We completed performance, financial, technology and cybersecurity, data analytics, and compliance audit work.

This year, the Auditor’s Office received a national Distinguished Knighton Award from the Association of Local Government Auditors, or ALGA. The professional organization chose our “Denver Preschool Program” audit for recognition among submissions from auditing offices across the U.S. and Canada.

The prestigious Knighton awards recognize the best work from government auditing offices each year. Auditor O’Brien directed his audit team to submit the “Denver Preschool Program” audit for consideration for the award because of the strength of the findings, the community impact, and the opportunity for other city initiatives to look at this audit and the preschool program as an example.

The audit team worked hard on this award-winning audit, including Audit Supervisor LaKeshia Allen Horner, Senior Auditor Darrell Finke, Senior Auditor Maria Durant, Staff Auditor June Samedi, and Audit Intern Samantha Lasher. Audit Director Katja Freeman oversaw the team.

Our office currently has four members who volunteer to serve on and participate in Association of Local Government Auditors governing committees. Deputy Auditor Valerie Walling serves on the Awards Committee; Audit Director Katja Freeman is a member of the Professional Issues Committee; and Reporting Specialist Kristen Clark serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Members of our auditing division also participated in professional conferences remotely this year to further their education and expertise. This helps to maintain continuing education requirements for various professional certifications and auditing standards. Audit services staff hold memberships in several professional organizations that provide resources relevant to government auditing.

Several of our knowledgeable audit and communications staff did presentations and shared their professional expertise for local, national, and international groups.

Audit Analytics Supervisor Sam Gallaher and Lead Data Analytics Auditor Robert Persichitte presented a session for the virtual ALGA conference over the summer called “Improving Your Data Analytics Impact through Sensitivity Analysis and Traditional Audit Work.” Communications Director Tayler Overschmidt and Reporting Specialist Kristen Clark also gave a presentation at the conference called “Making Audit Reports Accessible for the Public.”

Dr. Gallaher served as a part-time faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs, where he was a second reader for a master’s student capstone project. He also created and led two three-day audit analytics trainings for attendees in Saudi Arabia and a four- hour training on analytics for participants in the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Persichitte continues to run the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program and teach principles of accounting at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He also gave presentations about using computer models to detect fraud for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Global Conference and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Canada Conference.

Our auditors’ expertise and knowledge are valuable to auditors across Colorado, the United States, and Canada, and we are happy to share our experience with our peers and support the progress of government auditing. Our audit analytics and continuous auditing techniques are some of the most advanced in the country, and we are proud to continue to develop more efficient ways to monitor city risks.

Denver Labor Accomplishments

Auditor O’Brien, Denver Labor Executive Director Jeffrey Garcia, and the labor team had a year of growth and significant impact in 2020. The Denver Labor team continues to build relationships in the community to encourage employers to pay employ- ees according to the law. This year, Denver’s new citywide minimum wage took effect and led to pay raises for thousands of workers across many industries. Our analysts audited 100% of certified payrolls for pre- vailing wage and investigated every minimum wage underpayment com- plaint. Read more about the excellent work this team accomplished in our Denver Labor Wages Report section.


Outstanding Staff

Our staff comprises many talented, well-educated, and hard-working people. This year, our team worked to improve their work, themselves, our office, and our industry.

Deputy Auditor Valerie Walling served as a member of the Jefferson County Audit Committee and she was on the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Denver board.

Our Safety Committee helped  keep members of our office safe and healthy this year with the leadership and support of committee members Edyie Thompson, Kharis Eppstein, Darrell Finke, Rafael Gongón, Daniel Summers, Vilma Balnyte, Nicholas Jimroglou, Alexandra Dickerson, and Tyson Faussone.

Our New Employee Onboarding Committee worked hard this year to implement updates to our process for welcoming new employees and to find ways to bring on new employees in a remote-work environment. Committee members included Tammy Phillips, Edyie Thompson, Emily Owens Gerber, Dawn Wiseman, John Danilenko-Dixon, Tayler Overschmidt, Valerie Walling, and Kharis Eppstein. Audit Supervisors Emily Owens Gerber, Sonia Montano, and Kharis Eppstein also developed an extensive multi-course curriculum in auditing essentials for our new and existing audit staff.

Our Events Committee kept our office connected even from home by organizing virtual gathering opportunities. Finding ways to maintain positive relationships and a strong team was more important than ever this year, since our team couldn’t stay in touch in person. Thanks to committee members Rafael Gongón, Cyndi Lubrano, Anna Hansen, Cody Schulte, Kristin McCormack, Megan O’Brien, Brandon Stolba, and Shaun Wysong for your fun ideas and organization!

To continue to provide quality work and meaningful services to the people of Denver, the Auditor’s Office is committed to attracting, supporting, and retaining an educated and well-qualified staff of auditors, analysts, and other professionals to carry out our mission. Members of our skilled staff hold a number of advanced degrees — including public policy doctorate, law, and master’s degrees in public administration, accounting, political science, business administration, and international relations.

Many also have professional and academic certifications and designations — such as certified public accountant (CPA), audit analytics and data science academic certificates, certified internal auditor (CIA), certified government auditing professional (CGAP), certified fraud examiner (CFE), certification in risk management assurance (CRMA), certified information systems auditor (CISA), chartered financial analyst (CFA) and chartered global management accountant (CGMA).



Denver Auditor

Denver Auditor´s Office

201 W. Colfax Ave. #705 Denver, CO 80202
Call: 720-913-5000
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