112 – Fiscal Management
The financial objective of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is to maintain the county jail and provide law enforcement to the unincorporated areas of Harris County. This policy establishes authority, responsibility, and procedures for the fiscal management of the HCSO to include budgeting, purchasing, accounting, and disbursement of petty cash and safeguarding all inventoried County assets.
It will be the policy of HCSO to maintain accurate and detailed records of all financial transactions to include, budgeting, purchasing, accounting, petty cash and county – owned property under this policy, in order to remain above reproach.
Fiscal Role Authority
- Harris County Sheriff: Chief executive officer charged with having ultimate responsibility and full authority for the fiscal management of the HCSO.
- Chief Deputy: Designated by the Sheriff as having the authority to review and approve all financial policy issues and actions undertaken by the HCSO.
- Assistant Chiefs and Bureau Majors: Designated by the Sheriff as having the authority to approve for consideration any financial issue relative to his or her respective bureau or command.
- Sheriff’s Office Finance Director: Charged with the responsibility of coordinating with the bureau majors to ensure all financial transactions are in accordance with state and county policies and statutes and that adequate funding for expenditure is available prior to approval by the Sheriff or his or her designee. In addition, maintain accurate inventory records of inventoried county assets.
Only the Sheriff, chief deputy, and the HCSO finance director have the authority to commit HCSO funding.
The Office of Management Services (OMS) is responsible for establishing the county policy relative to budgeting guidelines. In this regard, they provide a budget packet that includes the necessary forms to be completed and the established timelines. Once this data is received, it is the responsibility of the HCSO finance director to: [CALEA Standard 17.2.1]
- Coordinate with the respective bureaus to ensure each bureau properly prepares a preliminary budget, [CALEA Standard 17.2.2]
- Consolidate these departmental budgets into a singular Sheriff budget,
- Present this preliminary budget to the Sheriff and his command staff,
- Make changes as deemed necessary by the Sheriff or his or her designee,
- Present the official budget to Commissioners Court,
- Allocate the final budgeted figures back to the individual departments,
- Review with each bureau their allotted funding, and
- Monitor actual expenditures during the fiscal year to ensure the HCSO keeps authorized levels of funding.
- Purchasing [CALEA Standard 17.3.1 a, b, c, and e]
All purchases by the HCSO are subject to state and county statutes and policies. The Texas Local Government Code, Section 262.034, states: “A county officer or employee commits an offense if the officer or employee intentionally or knowingly violates this subchapter […]. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.” Under no circumstances should purchases be made or services be provided without approval from the Purchasing Office or without a purchase order in place. When in doubt, contact the Purchasing Office for clarification.
Regardless of the purchase amount, the following procedures are required:
- The user prepares a signed “Purchase Order Request” form describing the reason, the item(s) or service(s) required, the quantity, the manufacturer and part number(s) if available, and an estimated price.
- The request is forwarded to the appropriate bureau major for approval. If the request is for an amount less than $5,000, the “Purchase Order Request” form is sent directly to the HCSO finance director.
- Once completed, the request is forwarded to the chief deputy for approval if the request is for an amount more than $5,000, firearm(s) or if it is a blank purchase order.
- Upon approval by the chief deputy, the “Purchase Order Request” form is forwarded to the HCSO finance director for budgeting and finance approval.
- Upon approval, the request is forwarded to the Purchasing Office to obtain price quotations in an effort to ensure competitive pricing and entry into the county purchasing system.
- The purchase order is issued and mailed to the vendor by the Harris County Purchasing Department, and an order is placed. A copy of the purchase order is e-mailed to the initial bureau requester.
- Upon receipt of the requested items, a bureau representative signs either a packing slip or invoice acknowledging receipt and forwards it to the Harris County Auditor’s Office for payment.
- If a purchase is less than $50,000, vendor quotes are solicited through the Purchasing Office. Once received, the quotes will be reviewed with the appropriate bureau, and a recommendation is made. This request is sent to the Harris County Purchasing Office whereby they will review the quotes and, depending on the amount, either issue a purchase order or solicit additional quotes. If a quote for a lesser amount is found, they will contact the HCSO to determine whether the new vendor is acceptable.
If the price of an item for purchase exceeds $50,000 and requires a formal bid, the Purchasing Office will work with the bureau to develop written specifications. These specifications are forwarded to the Harris County Purchasing Department, which coordinates the competitive process.
NOTE: The competitive bid process requires appropriate planning as the process is time intensive and takes a minimum of eight (8) weeks for completion. The Texas Local Government Code, Sections 262.023 and 262.034, state that a county officer or employee commits an offense if the officer or employee intentionally or knowingly makes or authorizes separate, sequential, or component purchases to avoid the competitive bidding requirements [Section 262.023]. An offense under this subsection is a Class B misdemeanor [Section 262.034].
After the prospective vendors return the bid packages, the following occurs:
- Harris County Purchasing consolidates the bids and forwards them to the Purchasing Office for review.
- The Purchasing Office coordinates with the respective bureau to ascertain which vendor should be awarded the contract.
- A recommendation letter is sent to the Purchasing department requesting the contract to be awarded.
- Harris County Purchasing places award notification on the Commissioners Court agenda for official approval.
- The requesting bureau must submit a “Purchase Order Request” form with all applicable signatures in order to generate a purchase order for the Court-approved award.
- The purchase order is issued and mailed to the vendor by the Purchasing department, and an order is placed. A copy of the purchase order is e-mailed to the bureau requester.
- Upon receipt, the using department signs either a packing slip or invoice acknowledging receipt and forwards it to the Harris County Auditor’s Office for payment.
- Payment is made.
In the event a single vendor only provides the goods or services needed, a written letter must be submitted to Harris County Purchasing for their approval. Once approved, steps ‘a’ through ‘h’ are followed.
All purchases and contracts will be awarded based on the best value (price and quality) meeting the specifications submitted. If the award for purchase is granted to a vendor other than the lowest bidder, the requesting bureau must prepare a written explanation or justification. This memorandum will be forwarded to the Purchasing department with the award recommendation letter.
Procedures for emergency purchases will be in accordance with the Texas Local Government Code, Section 262.024. When the Sheriff or his or her designee approves an emergency purchase or supplemental emergency appropriation and fund transfer, the Finance Office will process this request as specified in Section B (Purchasing). The only deviation is that emergency procurements are exempt from the competitive bid process. [CALEA Standard 17.3.1 d]
At the beginning of each fiscal year, the HCSO is allotted their budgeted funding as a lump sum amount. With the approval of the Sheriff or his or her designee, these monies are then allocated to the various bureaus by cost categories to be used to fund operations. [CALEA Standard 17.4.1]
- The HCSO finance director shall provide the Sheriff or his or her designee with a monthly status report detailing the fiscal affairs of the HCSO. The report shall include:
- The initial appropriation for each account or program,
- The balances as of the beginning of each monthly period,
- Expenditures and encumbrances made during each monthly period, and
- The unencumbered balance of each account.
- This report contains for each budget item:
- The annual amount budgeted,
- The amount realized by the preceding month, and
- The amount realized on the fiscal year to report date.
Petty Cash Funds
The Texas Local Government Code, Section 130.909, provides that Commissioners Court may set aside from the general fund of the county an amount approved by the county auditor for the establishment of a petty cash fund for any county or district official or department head approved by the Commissioners Court. The petty cash fund must be established under a system provided and installed by the county auditor and the county purchasing agent with reports to be made to the auditor and the purchasing agent as the auditor and / or purchasing agent require.
The Sheriff is liable for any shortage in a petty cash fund. Accordingly, the following guidelines for operating any petty cash fund will be strictly adhered to:
- The petty cash fund may be used for the following:
- Purchasing individual items costing $100 or less,
- Reimbursing volunteers and other persons not employed by the county, as appropriate, for miscellaneous expenses such as mileage,
- Parking, tolls, and other county-business-related automobile expenses under $100,
- Overnight mail services,
- Obtaining copies or filing documents with non-Harris County entities, or
- Other expenditures, if prior Commissioners Court approval is obtained.
- The petty cash account may not be used for:
- Travel advances,
- Individual items costing more than $100,
- Mileage reimbursement for county employees, or
- Loans, advances, or cashing checks.
- Opening New Fund or Increasing Authorized Fund Balance:
- A request to open or increase a petty cash fund must be approved by the Sheriff. This approval may not be delegated.
- The Finance Office will complete County Auditor’s Form 1235, “Request to Open / Increase a Petty Cash or Other Imprest Account,” and will submit the form to the County Auditor’s Office, Compliance Department.
- Upon Commissioners Court approval, the Finance Office will initiate County Auditor’s Form 1268, “Request for Payment,” for the initial amount or amount of increase, indicating the custodian name to which the check is to be made payable.
- The custodian receives the check from the County Treasurer’s Office in the amount of the opening balance or amount of increase.
- If the funds are a cash fund, the custodian cashes the check and secures the cash.
- If the fund is a checking account, the custodian deposits the check into the account.
- Changing Custodians
- The exiting custodian counts the petty cash and reconciles the petty cash to the imprest balance (utilizing County Auditor’s Form 1267, “Petty Cash Reimbursement Request and Reconcilement”) in the presence of the employee who will be assigned as the new custodian.
- The new custodian completes County Auditor’s Form 1235A, “Imprest Account Change of Custodian Form.”
- The new custodian retains a copy of both forms and forwards the originals to the Finance Office.
- The Finance Office representative updates the records and forwards the records to Financial Accounting.
- The Finance Office shall have the responsibility of controlling and monitoring the receipt and disbursements of funds and safeguarding of the HCSO petty cash. All disbursements of petty cash shall be authorized by the HCSO business manager.
- All disbursements shall be documented and monitored by receipts acknowledging purchases, and all account activity will be recorded in the petty account journal.
- To apply for replenishment of the monies from the Harris County general fund, County Auditor’s Form 1267, “Petty Cash Reimbursement Request and Reconcilement,” reflecting the initial petty cash balance, credits and debits, and balance on hand, shall be completed. [CALEA Standard 17.4.2 a, c, and d]
- Approval of funds disbursement must be obtained from the appropriate bureau major via a signed memorandum stating the goods or services needed, the amount, and the urgency of the need. This memorandum will be forwarded to the Finance Office for review to ensure the appropriate procedures are followed. Upon proof of purchase in the form of a receipt or an invoice marked “paid,” funds will be reimbursed after review and approval by the HCSO finance director. [CALEA Standard 17.4.2 b, c, and d]
- At least once each quarter, the HCSO finance director will examine the cash fund accounts and verify the correctness of those books and reports. The finance director will review the accounting procedures and take action to correct any errors or deficiencies noted. [CALEA Standard 17.4.2 f]
- In accordance with Texas Local Government Code, Section 115.004, an annual audit is conducted by an independent audit agency selected by Commissioners Court. Additionally, individual departments within the HCSO are subject to random audits by the Harris County Internal Audit Department and any other state and / or federal agency having the authority to do so. A copy of the audit report is forwarded to the Finance Office and is reviewed with the Sheriff or his or her designee and with the appropriate bureau major. [CALEA Standard 17.4.3]
Only persons authorized by the Harris County Auditor who are properly trained on the Integrated Fund Accounting System (IFAS) are authorized to receive cash and issue receipts to the public on behalf of Harris County. [CALEA Standard 17.4.2 e]
- A complete listing of all persons and positions authorized to accept cash and issue receipts shall be maintained by the Harris County Auditor.
- Procedures for acceptance of cash from prisoners and for the Inmate Trust Fund shall be established through the Criminal Justice Command.
- Travel and / or Training
- The purpose of travel and / or training must be for the county’s benefit and / or be related to the HCSO primary business activities.
- All travel and / or training requests must be approved by the requesting employee’s chain of command and submitted to the Finance Office a minimum of sixty (60) days in advance.
- The Finance Office will coordinate to obtain the required approval for travel and / or training from Commissioners Court. Upon approval, the Finance Office will notify the requester.
- If requesting to use the county travel agency, then the request must be submitted to the Finance Office within one (1) week after approval from Commissioners Court.
- If payment in advance for registration and / or class is required, then an invoice and a W-9 form from the vendor must be submitted to the Finance Office a minimum of forty-five (45) days in advance.
- Travel expenses (rental cars, airport parking, meals, etc.) will need to be paid for out-of-pocket and reimbursed upon return.
- Detailed itemized receipts and requests for reimbursement must be submitted to the Finance Office within one (1) week after the completion of the travel and / or training event for processing.
- Personal items, such as: prescriptions, cosmetics, movies, golf, health club, etc., will not be paid.
- Alcoholic beverages will not be paid.
- The county employee should obtain the most economical airfare available. If travel in a class more expensive than economy is requested, then the difference must be paid by the county employee.
- Emergency travel advances may be authorized, but only in situations of dire need and only with prior approval through the employee’s chain of command.
- Accountability of HCSO inventoried County assets:
The Finance Office shall have the responsibility of controlling and monitoring the inventory of County-Owned Property (whether bought with county funds or acquired through seizure / forfeiture actions) under the control of HCSO. All department firearms owned by the County shall be considered under this policy.
- Purchased: All property will be inventoried when received. The Captain over the division receiving the property shall provide the Finance Office with all required property information within forty-eight (48) hours of receiving the inventory.
- Seized: The Asset Forfeiture Unit shall provide the Finance Office with all required information within forty-eight (48) hours of the District Attorney’s Office acceptance of processing the seizure.
- The Finance Office shall be responsible for the following:
- Enter all property into IFAS within twenty-four (24) hours of receiving the required property information.
- Provide the IFAS asset numbers and county tags for the property to the Captain of the division receiving the property.
- Submit applicable form(s) and paperwork to Harris County Purchasing and Harris County Auditors.
- Record and maintain all property on a Master Inventory List.
- The Finance Office shall ensure each division conducts and submits annual inventories of county-owned property.
This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:
April 21, 2009
November 18, 2011
September 15, 2015
September 25, 2015
May 8, 2018