Below is the full text of the letter, background materials, and audit questionnaire sent by Fairfax County Board Auditor Jim Shelton to the county's 21 Friends of the Library groups calling for a response by February 16. Described as a "control self-assessment tool" that "is designed to be a collaborative approach to gathering the needed information," the questionnaire is little more than a fishing expedition that, if completed, could lead to legal action against the Friends groups, not to mention shutting them down.
It behooves the Friends groups to reject this audit request as intrusive, unwarranted. and possibly illegal demand. The groups are private, volunteer 501(c)3 corporations with no legal obligation to provide more than public information to the county. Moreover, providing anything more than publicly required legal documents, such as the 990 tax returns, puts each group and their members in legal jeopardy.
The action by the Board of Supervisors to require this audit is punitive. We believe it is intended to shut down the Friends groups who have been critical of the FCPL administration.
The key reason for the punitive audit is a "manifesto" prepared by some Friends members and library staff that was sent to the Library Board in Summer 2013 by Library Director Sam Clay. Among the points it makes are the need to:
It established these imperatives for 2013 (none of which have been accomplished):
- Fund a high quality library system.
- Modernize the Library Trustee Board.
- Maintain highest standards of library services.
- Make the Library Foundation independent.
- Modernize the Library publicity department.
- Restore Friends confidence.
Is there any reason to doubt that this punitive audit is the way Library Director Sam Clay and the Board of Supervisors have reacted to the demands of knowledgeable volunteers who actually bring tremendous value to our libraries for much needed change in the county library system?
- Fire the Director.
- Make the Board of Trustees do their job.
- Appoint an Interim Director.
- Form a Branch Manager Committee of the Whole (during the interim period).